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GEN News Highlights : Jan 6, 2010

Oncomed to Exploit Fluidigm’s Microfluidic Devices in Cancer Stem Cell Research

Collaboration will perform gene-expression analysis of tumors and evaluate changes in cancer stem cells when mAbs are used.

OncoMed Pharmaceuticals is tapping Fluidigm’s microfluidic tools for the analysis of tumor-cell heterogeneity, including cancer stem cells. The aim is to identify unique drug targets as well as to evaluate and develop treatments against them.

OncoMed will initially use Fluidigm’s BioMark™ System along with Fluidigm’s proprietary Dynamic Array™ integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs) to perform detailed gene-expression analysis of solid tumors at the whole-tumor and single-cell level. This phase will track changes in cancer stem cells found in human tumors following treatment with OncoMed’s pipeline of therapeutic mAbs.

The company’s lead candidate, OMP-21M18, is currently in Phase I trials. Other candidates are in preclinical development, targeting multiple validated cancer stem cell pathways.

Fluidigm’s IFCs enable the simultaneous performance of thousands of sophisticated biochemical measurements in extremely minute volumes. These integrated circuits are made possible by miniaturizing and integrating liquid-handling components on a single microfluidic device. 

“This technology has broad applications including the ability to assess the safety and efficacy of therapeutic antibodies that have been generated to eradicate these important cells, which fuel the growth and proliferation of solid tumors,” notes Paul Hastings, OncoMed’s president and CEO.

The companies will also apply this same technology to analyze tumor heterogeneity and cancer stem cell frequency across OncoMed’s human tumor bank, which includes approximately 100 human tumor biopsies that have been engrafted and minimally passaged in immunocompromised mice. The collaboration also has the potential to include novel and next-generation microfluidic and tissue-sample preparation technologies that Fluidigm is currently developing.

“The combination of OncoMed’s expertise in cancer and cancer stem cells, together with Fluidigm’s unique single-cell analysis technology, should yield important new therapeutic discoveries,” remarks Gajus Worthington, president and CEO of Fluidigm. “Our respective capabilities are highly complementary.”