Cancer diagnostics specialist Epic Sciences reported signing collaborations with six pharma companies centered on the application of its circulating tumor cell (CTC) capture and analysis technology to identify biomarkers that can serve as the basis of companion diagnostics. The collaborations involve 12 clinical trials that are part of 40 distinct projects measuring 18 different markers.

Epic was spun out of the Scripps Research Institute in 2008 to commercialize technology for imaging and analyzing CTCs that the developers claim is far more sensitive than existing blood tests. According to Epic, most CTC technologies employ a physical enrichment strategy based on a few markers thought to be present on the majority of cancer cells. Because cancer cells are heterogeneous, Epic chose a different path which physically retains all of the cells and identifies the CTCs using multiparametric analysis in a “…no cells left behind” strategy.

“Given that we have been operating in stealth mode, Epic has been pleased by the extraordinary level of interest and clinical deal flow around our CTC detection and characterization platform,” comments David Nelson, Ph.D., president and CEO at Epic. “These collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies provide a strong and diverse basis for Epic’s companion diagnostic pipeline. By using Epic to molecularly characterize CTCs, our pharmaceutical partners are looking to improve the success rate, decrease the cost, and expedite commercial launch of their targeted therapies.”

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