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Breast Cancer Collaboration with USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

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ANGLE plc has announced that it has signed a collaboration agreement with the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center to investigate the clinical use of the Parsortix system for breast cancer.

The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (USC Norris) is a world leader in cancer research and is designated by the National Cancer Institute as one of the nation's leading comprehensive cancer centers.

The research collaboration will be led by Dr Julie E. Lang, M.D., F.A.C.S., Associate Professor of Surgery, specializing in breast cancer and notably in molecular profiling of circulating tumor cells in breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer and radiation induced-sarcoma. Dr Lang is involved with clinical trials and translational studies focused on finding better treatments for breast cancer patients via a multidisciplinary and personalized approach.

Metastasis is responsible for virtually all breast cancer related deaths. American Society for Clinical Oncology guidelines now call for the biopsy of metastatic sites (the secondary cancer locations) for biomarker testing to guide decision making for systemic therapy. These metastatic biopsies are invasive, often requiring surgery, and therefore can cause the patient considerable additional complications. Furthermore, such metastatic biopsies can be expensive and may delay aspects of the patient’s ongoing treatment.

The metastatic biopsy yields no medical benefit other than a better understanding of the status of the disease to aid therapeutic decisions, such as the most appropriate chemotherapy regime. Dr Lang and her team have investigated over several years the possibility of securing the same or similar information from circulating tumour cells (CTCs) obtained from the patient’s blood through a simple blood test. In pursuing this area of research, USC Norris has used the existing in-market CTC system along with several other systems under development, before developing its own in-house process. However all of these systems have had specific drawbacks that have limited their applicability.

Over the last four months, the team at USC Norris has evaluated the performance of ANGLE’s Parsortix system and have now decided to focus their efforts on using the Parsortix system to harvest CTCs for analysis. As a result of its previous work, the team has already developed core processes needed to undertake RNA analysis of the breast cancer CTCs once harvested by the Parsortix system.

The aims for the collaboration with USC Norris in breast cancer are to:

• Evaluate if CTCs may be successfully isolated and profiled from Stage IV breast cancer patients, with or without background subtraction of contaminating leukocytes

• Determine if CTCs may serve as a surrogate for biopsies of macrometastases by paired comparisons (CTC and metastases) for each patient

• Study if profiling CTCs’ biology sequentially over time may explain treatment resistance to HER2 directed therapy, chemotherapy, or endocrine therapy, and further identify novel treatment targets.