US-based pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and scientific equipment provider Thermo Fisher Scientific have teamed up to advance the next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based testing for cancer.

The collaboration aims to increase local access to NGS-based testing for lung and breast cancer in more than 30 countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The enhanced access to local NGS testing will enable a quicker analysis of associated genes and help healthcare providers select appropriate therapy for the individual patient.

As part of the collaboration, Thermo Fisher will identify local labs that are eligible for the use of NGS technology.

It will ensure the labs have the necessary infrastructure, trained staff, and quality control measures to meet industry standards for NGS testing services for breast and lung cancer.

Pfizer will work to enable affordable patient access to NGS testing and raise awareness among healthcare providers regarding the benefits of advanced testing.

The two companies will further evaluate opportunities to expand geographically and to expand testing for other types of cancer.

Thermo Fisher Scientific executive vice president Gianluca Pettiti said: “Anyone facing a cancer diagnosis should have access to cutting-edge testing that can match them with an appropriate, optimised treatment plan and better inform their care.

“Today, we aim to bring rapid NGS testing to an increased number of decentralized labs, closer to where patients are treated.

“We are moving one step closer to delivering precision insights to underserved patients so they can receive a more tailored path for their care no matter where they are in the world.”

Traditionally, single-gene testing has been used to match patients with appropriate targeted therapies, which can be a time-consuming process if sequential tests are needed.

The NGS technology is rapidly replacing sequential, single biomarker tests, with the emergence of more targeted therapies that can be matched through a broader set of genomic markers.

The technology simultaneously matches multiple biomarkers by screening a single tumour tissue or blood sample.

It provides clinical teams with rapid and actionable genomic insights to support their precision oncology treatment decisions for eligible patients.

Pfizer emerging markets global president Nick Lagunowich said: “The more we understand the complex science behind cancer, the better we can treat it. Our experience has taught us that cancer cannot always be treated with a broad brush and often requires an individualised approach based on precise disease characteristics.

“In many parts of the world, access to next-generation sequencing may be limited or unaffordable for cancer patients. This program aims to improve their treatment journey and help increase their chances for improved outcomes.”