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Cancer Genetics Inc. and Columbia University Researchers Collaborate


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Cancer Genetics, Inc. has entered into a research collaboration with Columbia University's Azra Raza, MD, director of the MDS Center and Professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), and Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of medicine at CUMC, to identify more accurate diagnostic and prognostic markers for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), as well as novel therapies to target this class of bone marrow cancers. The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to develop personalized therapy for MDS patients and to enable accurate prediction of future treatment needs before patients become resistant to their current therapy or before their MDS progresses to the more aggressive acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

MDS represents a serious area of unmet need in cancer care. Approximately 15,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, and progression to AML occurs in about 30 percent of patients. Patients with MDS require frequent monitoring, and treatment for the disease can cost up to $50,000 per patient per year.

Through the development of a more detailed biologic characterization scheme for MDS, Cancer Genetics believes the collaboration will dramatically change the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of MDS. In addition to reconfirming the company's commitment to furthering personalized cancer treatment, the collaboration offers a potentially significant commercial opportunity for Cancer Genetics, as the company plans on developing unique next-generation sequencing (NGS) panels based on the work resulting from the collaboration

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Raza and her world-class team at Columbia. The number of MDS cases diagnosed each year continues to increase as the population ages, and there is tremendous need for better outcome prediction and more individualized therapy options for these patients," said Panna Sharma, CEO of Cancer Genetics. "Working alongside Dr. Raza puts us at the forefront of revealing breakthroughs in MDS research and will allow us to address a class of diseases that can benefit enormously from personalized medicine."

"We are excited to be working with CGI on this collaboration," said Raza. "With more elaborate genomic sequencing, we will be able to make a significant leap in the quality of personalized care we can deliver to our MDS patients."

Raza, the collaboration's primary investigator, is a preeminent leader in MDS research. Through her clinical practice, she has established the largest single repository of MDS samples in the world, the MDS Tissue Repository. The repository contains approximately 50,000 samples from MDS patients, many of whom were followed for more than twenty years through disease progression and remission. Raza's contributions to the field of MDS are vast: In addition to her work as a clinician, she has made major scientific contributions to our understanding of the underlying biology of MDS. Significantly, she has been involved in the development and FDA approval of every drug on the market for MDS treatment, as well as dozens of Phase I–III studies on potential MDS-fighting agents.

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