Firm claims SnapPath system will enable ex vivo biomarker evaluation from fine needle tumor aspirates.

BioMarker Strategies will receive the first $1 million in Phase II funding under its Fast-Track SBIR contract with the National Cancer Institute for development of its SnapPath™  live tumor cell testing system. The award is part of an overall $2.3 million in SBIR funding, of which $245,000 was received in October 2009.

The SnapPath system uses a systems biology approach to enable ex vivo biomarker testing of fine needle aspiration tumor samples, BioMarker explains. It maintains the technology will have applications both for stratifying patients in clinical trials and also for helping clinicians decide on the best treatments for individual patients.

One major limitation of the existing classes of static biomarkers is the inability to extract functional information from dead, fixed tumor cells, the firm continues. While static biomarkers such as EGRF mutation analysis or HER2 immunohistochemistry identify drug targets, they don’t provide any downstream information on signal transduction.

In contrast, ex vivo biomarkers are dynamic molecular markers such as phosphoproteins, which are evoked from living tumor cells after removal from the patient, BioMarkers continues. However, while ex vivo biomarkers are available for single-cell, fluidic cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, it is not yet possible to measure ex vivo biomarkers in solid tumor tissue-based cancers. The company aims to address this through the development of its SnapPath ex vivo biomarker platform.

The SnapPath benchtop unit will utilize automated fluidic technologies to process and manipulate live tumor biopsy samples within specially designed cartridges. The fine needle aspirate biopsy samples are deposited directly into a SnapPath cartridge immediately after the needle is removed from the patient and then delivered to the SnapPath platform, in a process similar to that required for lymphoma samples processed by flow cytometry.

In addition to its SBIR contract from the NCI, BioMarker has also received grants from the Maryland Technology Development and Johnson & Johnson  to support the development of the SnapPath platform.

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