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GEN News Highlights : Sep 4, 2012

Collaboration Focuses on ‘Blood Biopsy’ Tumor Profiling

Transgenomic and NYU Langone Medical Center inked a collaboration focused on application of the firm’s Ice Cold-PCR mutation detection technology to identify treatment-related mutations in the circulating tumor cells (CTCs) of patients with surgically operable early-stage lung cancer as a means to help tailor therapy. The partnership follows on from Transgenomic’s recently announced personalized therapy collaboration with researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is focused on exploiting the Ice Cold-PCR to characterize tumor-derived DNA in blood and CTCs from patients with a variety of cancers.

The Transgenomic-NYU Langone Medical Center partnership will involve isolating CTCs from the blood of about 200 patients using ScreenCell’s ScreenCell® CTC capture system both before and after surgery to determine if CTC numbers change, or are linked with disease recurrence or progression. DNA from these cells and also cell-free DNA (cfDNA) will then be analyzed using the Ice Cold-PCR technology to identify mutations known to be linked with a response to targeted drugs.

Comparing the molecular profile of cfDNA and CTC DNA with that of the primary lung tumor is hoped to provide new insights into the genetic makeup of metastasizing tumor cells, and also identify mutations associated with drug resistance as an early warning that alternative drug therapy may be needed.

Transgenomic says it is working to establish collaborations at other major cancer centers in the U.S. to further validate its technology. Just last month a partnership between Transgenomic and the University of Nebraska Medical Center won a $100,000 Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) grant from NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to fund early clinical trials evaluating a blood or urine-based genetic test for pancreatic cancer.

“Our Ice Cold-PCR technology is ideally suited to monitor patients’ disease activity and response to drugs in real time,” claims Craig Tuttle, CEO at Transgenomic. “Detecting cancer mutations from CTCs and DNA present in blood samples will allow physicians to intervene before clinical symptoms of disease recurrence appear and make routine ‘blood biopsies’ a reality.”