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Cartagenia Consortium Lungcadia Wins $1.76 M Grant

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Cartagenia is part of a three-member consortium called Lungcadia that has won a three-year, €1.4 million ($1.76 million) EuroTransBio research grant to develop a platform for personalized genetic analysis of cancer variants.

The project will lead to software tools and knowledge bases to evaluate relevant and actionable findings from next generation sequencing (NGS)-based molecular tumor profiles, and will make it possible to treat cancers at a more personalized level, with knowledge on response to drug medications at hand to allow clinicians and oncologists to make better treatment decisions.  The project focuses on lung cancer as a model disease, but the results will be applicable to other types of cancers.

The Luncadia consortium consists of the Institute of Pathology at Hannover Medical School (MHH), which will conduct clinical and lab validations; BIOBASE, an international bioinformatics company recently acquired by QIAGEN and now part of QIAGEN Bioinformatics that will create a curated database of knowledge on lung cancer variants; and Cartagenia, whose cloud-based Bench platform will be used to set up robust software pipelines that help pathology labs and clinicians manage, analyze, interpret, report and share genomic variations during the diagnostic process.

In cancer therapy, sequencing analysis is becoming increasingly important, because more and more is known on how the molecular profile of a tumor can determine whether the patient responds well to a certain drug or is resistant. With the advent of NGS to pathology labs, sequencing is becoming a high-throughput, cost-effective tool to investigate many genes simultaneously.

The Principal Investigator for Lungcadia at MHH, Professor Dr. Ulrich Lehmann stated: "NGS assay results are so extensive that their analysis requires new software tools to be developed, allowing the assessment of variants in context of what is known in literature, drug labels, and trial databases. Automating this process is what we want to achieve with this project. The new software will help to cope with the ever-growing list of genes to be tested and to select targeted therapies.”

Steven Van Vooren, a co-founder of Cartagenia, commented: “The Lungcadia consortium is strong: all 3 partners bring unique and complementary expertise to the table. Cartagenia has long-standing experience in variant assessment support and reporting workflow automation tools. BIOBASE has unique expertise in building best-of-breed curated knowledge bases. And MHH is ideally placed to validate the clinical relevance and robustness of software pipelines and curated knowledge bases, because they are directly embedded in oncodiagnostics as well as translational research.”

Cartagenia’s work on Lungcadia is a natural outgrowth of its collaborative efforts with clinical labs and research groups throughout Europe and North America, noted Cartagenia CEO Herman Verrelst.  Cartagenia’s Bench for Oncology platform provides the tools to efficiently allow pathology labs to take somatic variant profiles from NGS, Sanger and microarrays and quickly draft informative clinical lab reports, he added.

“Our Bench platform is designed with clinically robust tools that allow pathology labs such as the team at Hannover to efficiently manage and interpret large quantities of genetic data,” Verrelst said.  “With modern healthcare quickly moving toward personalized medicine, genetic analysis is playing an important role as a means of understanding a patient’s unique cancer. Our software solutions can help assess the genetic profile of a patient’s cancer to allow clinicians and lab directors to determine how it might respond to various treatments.  We look forward to working with the consortium on the Lungcadia project.”