It is very likely that on your last flight the turbofan engines were controlled by full authority digital engine controls – FADECs for short. FADECs have played a significant role in keeping airline ticket prices low (except during holidays) by continually adjusting engine parameters so that the engine operates with maximum fuel efficiency and within operational limits, allowing pilots to focus on other tasks.
While clinical genomics labs (those running NGS-based laboratory developed tests) are not currently subject to FDA oversight, that doesn’t mean they won’t be someday. The question is, how soon will that day come and, when it does, will your lab be ready?
Status of FDA regulation of laboratory developed tests, the promise of precision medicine, and a workshop about achieving accurate NGS laboratory test results
On January 23-25, 2017 the Precision Medicine World Congress was held in Mountain View, California. The PWMC conference kicked off with Dr. Keith Yamamoto, Vice Chancellor for Science and Policy and Strategy UCSF, with Dr. Robert Califf, FDA Commissioner in a “fireside chat” format. Dr. Califf has been with the FDA for 2 years, has served as Commissioner for 11 months, but has resigned as of January 20th 2017. One of his important parting thoughts presented was how the FDA has been re-energized by the >21st Century Cures Act to hire new scientific talent to implement the President’s Precision Medicine and Cancer Moonshot plans.
The distinction between accuracy and precision.
If you took a university introductory statistics course, you may have learned the distinction between accuracy and precision. It may likely have been presented with an archery analogy, where ‘Accurate’ was represented by arrows loosely clustered around the target’s bull’s-eye, ‘Precise’ was shown as a tight grouping displaced from the center, and ‘Accurate and Precise’ was depicted as what every archer aims for, a tight grouping directly at the bull’s-eye. Suddenly, words that are used interchangeably in everyday conversation took on dramatically different meanings.
Important information for assay development and review by the FDA
The presentations during the FDA-AACR Liquid Biopsies in Oncology Drug and Device Development Workshop on July 19, 2016 included several important pieces of information that will likely guide the development of assays and their review by the FDA.
After 17 months of deliberations since its first open meeting February 20, 2015 on NGS IVD assay oversight, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued DRAFT guidance for Stakeholders and FDA staff. The document “Use of Standards in FDA Regulatory Oversight of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)-Based In Vitro Diagnostics (IVDs) Used for Diagnosing Germline Diseases” was published online on July 6, 2016. This document (PDF located here) is for analytical validity and not for clinical validation.
Laboratory-developed tests are in the spotlight by the US Food and Drug Administration
Recently, the FDA upped the ante in the ongoing debate over its desire to regulate laboratory developed tests (LDTs) with the release of a report detailing the ‘real and potential harms to patients and to public health’ arising from LDTs. This debate has been heating up for several years now—not coincidentally with the emergence of precision medicine and the rapid adoption of data-intensive tools such as Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and the growing pipelines of targeted therapeutics. One might argue that the horse has already left the barn and the FDA are trying to corral it back in.