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Penn Highlands Healthcare 1 of 20 U.S. Medical Centers offering Envisia Genomic Classifier

Penn Highlands Healthcare is one of 20 medical centers across the country offering the Envisia Genomic Classifier, the first commercially available test to improve the diagnosis of one of the most common, deadly and difficult to diagnose lung-scarring diseases – idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

The Lung Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare joins Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, Cleveland Clinic, Cooper University Health Care, Tulane University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center as the most recent to participate in the Envisia early access program through Veracyte, Inc., a leading genomic diagnostics company and developer of the Envisia classifier.

According to Dr. Sandeep Bansal, medical director of The Lung Center and Intensive Care Services at Penn Highlands DuBois, accurate and timely diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, and other interstitial lung diseases, or ILDs, is often a major challenge for physicians and patients, even with the most advanced imaging technologies.

“Historically, physicians have used high-resolution computed tomography as well as clinical work-up in attempting to diagnose IPF; however, this method can deliver inadequate results, causing many patients to undergo invasive and possibly risky surgery for a more conclusive diagnosis,” Bansal said. “Through the Envisia classifier, physicians will be able to more confidently differentiate IPF from other ILDs, thus allowing an optimal patient treatment plan to be developed. At Penn Highlands, we are thrilled to be among the first in the country offering this breakthrough technology to our patients.”

Treatment plans for IPF may include the use of antifibrotic therapies that can slow progression of the disease. According to Veracyte, a recently published survey conducted by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation found that more than half of patients with IPF or other ILDs were misdiagnosed at least once and that, for four in 10 ILD patients, accurate diagnosis took more than a year. Among those patients with IPF, more than one in five reported treatment during the diagnostic process with systemic corticosteroids, a potentially harmful therapy for IPF patients.

“For many patients with IPF or other ILDs, the emotional toll of learning they have a serious lung disease is often compounded by the challenges they experienced in getting a diagnosis,” Bansal said. “Data suggests that the Envisia Genomic Classifier can help us reduce this burden and significantly improve care for these patients.”

Patients can now access the Envisia classifier in 12 states across the country. Veracyte’s program, which launched in May, provides advance access to the Envisia classifier, which the company anticipates making available nationwide in 2019.

The Envisia Genomic Classifier was developed using the company’s RNA whole-transcriptome sequencing and machine learning technology to improve physicians’ ability to differentiate IPF from other ILDs – without the need for surgery.

The 190-gene Envisia classifier detects the genomic pattern of usual interstitial pneumonia, a hallmark of IPF, with high accuracy. The genomic classifier is performed on patient samples obtained through transbronchial biopsy, a nonsurgical procedure that is commonly used in lung evaluation.

For more information on the advanced technology at The Lung Center or to schedule a lung cancer screening, offered at each of the four Penn Highlands hospitals, please call 814-375-3770.