Approximately 1 in 200 Canadians have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, which are strongly associated with the development of breast, ovarian and prostate cancers. However, genetic testing for these gene mutations in Canada is only offered to, and covered for, people who meet strict eligibility criteria based on several factors including having a strong family history of cancer. “Population-based genetic testing is a new approach for widespread screening in Canada that we hope will change the current genetic testing paradigm,” said Dr. Steven Narod, co-principal investigator and the director of the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at WCH.
With The Screen Project, all Canadians, age 18 years and older, will have access to BRCA1 and BRCA2 screening for a fee of $165 USD. Once they enroll online, participants will receive a saliva testing kit at home. Veritas will process their returned samples at the company’s laboratory, and the results will be reported to the patient within 2 to 4 weeks. Those who test positive for a BRCA mutation will be contacted by the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at WCH and will be offered additional clinical guidance. Those who receive a negative or inconclusive result will be notified through a report from Veritas.
“For years, our research team have been advocating for population-based genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, the two most clinically actionable susceptibility genes for breast and ovarian cancers. However, this has not been possible until now mostly because of the high cost of the test and the difficulties in participant enrollment,” explained Dr. Mohammad Akbari, co-principal investigator of the study and director of the Research Molecular Genetics Laboratory at WCH. “We found Veritas to be the best match for The Screen Project given their ability to enroll patients quickly and at the best price possible.”
“We now know using family history as the only selection criteria for genetic testing can make us miss up to half of all individuals who would greatly benefit from early access to this information,” said Mirza Cifric, co-founder and CEO of Veritas. “This is the first of several population-based initiatives we at Veritas will be rolling out in various countries over the coming months. It’s equally important to mention that these screening efforts will be coupled with the appropriate follow-up clinical care. This is why we are so excited to work with Dr. Narod and Dr. Akbari at WCH. We believe this is the model for future cancer screening.”
Currently, Veritas’ myBRCA products are available through distributors in more than 30 countries. Individuals in the U.S. who are interested in BRCA testing can learn more at veritasgenetics.com/mybrca.
About Veritas Genetics
Veritas Genetics is a global leader in providing accessible genetic screening and interpretation to individuals, physicians, and medical researchers. By removing barriers to genetic screening and whole genome sequencing, Veritas Genetics empowers individuals and doctors to make informed lifestyle decisions that help people live longer, healthier lives. The company was recognized by MIT Technology Review as one of the “50 Smartest Companies” in 2016. Veritas was founded by leaders in genomics from Harvard Medical School and operates globally from its offices in the U.S., Europe and China. Learn more at veritasgenetics.com.
About Women’s College Hospital
For more than 100 years Women’s College Hospital (WCH) has been developing revolutionary advances in healthcare. Today, WCH is a world leader in the health of women and Canada’s leading, academic ambulatory hospital. A champion of equitable access, WCH advocates for the health of all women from diverse cultures and backgrounds and ensures their needs are reflected in the care they receive. It focuses on delivering innovative solutions that address Canada’s most pressing issues related to population health, patient experience and system costs. The WCH Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) is developing new, scalable models of care that deliver improved outcomes for patients and sustainable solutions for the health system as a whole.
Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) is tackling some of the greatest health challenges of our time. Its scientists are conducting global research that advances the health of women and improves healthcare options for all, and are then translating those discoveries to provide much-needed improvements in healthcare worldwide.
For more information about how WCH and WCRI are transforming patient care, visit
www.womenscollegehospital.ca and www.womensresearch.ca.