Noninvasive tool measures drug effects on adult epithelial stem cells and tissues.

EpiStem entered into feasibility studies with AstraZeneca to use its plucked hair biomarker technology to help guide development of new cancer drugs.

EpiStem scientists discovered the link between the stem cells in the small intestine and the hair follicle. From this knowledge, the plucked hair biomarker has been developed as a non-invasive tool to measure drug effects on adult epithelial stem cells and tissues.

“The FDA has made it clear that they want new drugs to have biomarkers that show the direct impact of that drug,” points out ,” explained Jeff Moore, managing director of novel therapies at EpiStem. “We are very excited about our biomarker developments and believe that our technology will accelerate the development of new cancer therapeutics throughout development and is well placed to improve the effectiveness of existing treatment regimens.”

EpiStem reports that this tool will enable drug companies to measure the effects of novel oncology treatments over time in a minimally invasive manner. The biomarker technology may help inform the early-stage assessment of drugs in preclinical development thereby reducing the risk of an expensive drug failure in later clinical trials.

The biomarker technology works by taking plucked human hair at various times during cancer treatment and analyzing the corresponding changes in gene expression. These changes in hair can provide drug development companies with a measure of drug exposure, toxicity, dose/schedule, and patient selection in preclinical and clinical drug development.

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