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Avera, Epic Sciences Collaborate

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 “We have entered into an era where biomarkers are beginning to direct therapeutic decisions.  What remains difficult is clinical validation of the utility of these biomarkers,” said Murali Prahalad, Ph.D., president and CEO of Epic Sciences. “The clinical trials envisioned and being driven by the Avera Center for Precision Oncology incorporate Epic Sciences’ no cell left behind® Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) technology to enable faster development and clinical validation of novel personalized cancer treatments.”

The Epic Sciences’ CTC detection and characterization platform is used to quantify the proteomic and genomic changes that accumulate in tumor cells over time and in response to repeated rounds of cancer therapy. Following a simple blood draw, the Epic Sciences technology can detect all categories of CTCs in the blood and identify, on a single cell basis, subpopulations of metastatic cancer cells that may be resistant or susceptible to cancer therapies.  This is also known as a “liquid biopsy.”

Currently, other technologies exclude many CTCs that do not adhere to assumptions about size or cell surface markers, which precludes a comprehensive view of the heterogeneity among a patient’s tumor cells that may affect therapeutic response.  The Epic Sciences platform, however, analyzes all nucleated cells.

Avera scientists will use Epic Sciences’ CTC detection and analysis platform to explore molecular drivers of disease to determine the predictive utility of the Epic Sciences platform towards biomarker guided therapies.  If successful, this will enable novel liquid biopsy based prediction and monitoring of disease leading to improved therapy decisions and understanding of therapy efficacy.

“No tumor is the same, and cancer constantly adapts in order to survive,” said Brian Leyland-Jones, MB BS, PhD, Vice President of Avera Center for Precision Oncology.  “Using Epic Sciences’ liquid biopsy, we can measure both protein and genomic targets to help provide cancer care that is highly personalized and precise. As we continue to develop molecularly-targeted cancer treatment, liquid biopsy can help us treat more patients more effectively.”

Epic Sciences recently announced its platform’s capability to interrogate single CTCs with both proteomic and genomic analyses, including deep sequencing of known cancer genes. The approach enables further precision that could potentially influence therapy selection, including the use of combination therapies.