Tulane Medical Center December 06, 2018

Tulane Medical Center is one of just 20 facilities across the United States now offering genomic testing for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable progressive lung disease that causes scarring and changes to the lung’s ability to function.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a type of interstitial lung disease. There are over 200 different types of interstitial lung diseases (ILD), which all have similar symptoms but different causes.

Through an early access program from Veracyte Inc., Tulane now offers the Envisia Genomic Classifier, the first commercially available genomic test to improve the diagnosis of IPF. The test was developed using RNA sequencing and machine learning, and improves physicians’ ability to differentiate IPF from other interstitial lung diseases without the need for invasive, risky and costly surgery. 

“Accurate and timely diagnosis of IPF and other ILDs is often a major challenge for physicians and patients, even with the most advanced imaging technologies,” said Dr. Joseph A. Lasky, pulmonary and critical care specialist at Tulane Medical Center. “A precise diagnosis is fundamental for developing an optimal patient treatment plan. This may include the use of antifibrotic therapies that are now available to slow progression of IPF, as well as the avoidance of potentially harmful treatments. 

“We are delighted to be one of the first medical centers in the United States to offer this breakthrough genomic technology to our patients.”

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.

The 190-gene Envisia classifier detects the genomic pattern of usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP), a hallmark of IPF, with high accuracy (88 percent specificity and 70 percent sensitivity). The genomic classifier is performed on patient samples obtained through transbronchial biopsy, a nonsurgical procedure that is commonly used in lung evaluation.

“As a complement to high-resolution CT imaging, the Envisia classifier can dramatically improve patient care by enabling physicians to more confidently differentiate IPF from other ILDs,” said Bonnie Anderson, Veracyte’s chairman and CEO. “This may help patients get appropriate treatment sooner, without the need for risky surgery or other diagnostic procedures. We are pleased to be working with physicians at leading hospitals as we prepare to make the Envisia classifier more widely available to patients in 2019.”

For more information, please call the Tulane Pulmonary Clinic at (504) 988-8600.