Natera, Inc have announced a research collaboration with University College London (UCL) Cancer Institute, where the Institute will use Natera's proprietary technology to detect variations in cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in the TRACERx study (Tracking Cancer Evolution through Therapy).
TRACERx is a study of 840 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, funded mainly by Cancer Research UK, with additional funding from the Rosetrees Foundation and UCL. It aims to define the evolutionary paths of cancer by sampling and analyzing each tumor several times, both before and after surgery. Tumor sampling will include multiple biopsies of the tumor tissue, as well as liquid biopsy of ctDNA in blood, to measure tumor heterogeneity and its evolution over time.
Natera was selected for the study by the TRACERx investigators at UCL Cancer Institute and Leicester, because of its comparative performance to other technologies in preliminary studies. "Natera's technology will provide a unique view into the clonal and subclonal tumor variations that we wish to track for this study," said Professor Charles Swanton, M.D., Ph.D. and Professor Jacqui Shaw, lead researchers for the TRACERx study.
Natera's novel technology platform, called massively-multiplexed PCR (mmPCR), when combined with its proprietary statistical algorithms, allows for highly sensitive interrogation of point mutations and copy number variations (CNV) from cell-free DNA in blood. The mmPCR technology has been studied and proven in the context of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for Down syndrome and other common aneuploidies, where Natera is a worldwide leader.
"We are honored to be working with Professor Charles Swanton and Professor Jacqui Shaw in Leicester and University College ofLondon, which have a track record of lung cancer studies in the U.K.," said Matthew Rabinowitz, Ph.D., CEO of Natera. "This collaboration fits perfectly with Natera's mission to transform how people diagnose and manage genetic disease, including lung cancer, which kills more people every year than any other form of cancer. We are pleased that Natera's technology was selected for this landmark study, and we believe it will provide a springboard for Natera's plans to develop and launch commercially available cfDNA-based diagnostics for cancer of the lung, breast and ovaries."
The TRACERx study is expected to enable Natera to demonstrate how its technology can be used to improve cancer patient care and treatment outcomes. Specifically, Natera seeks to learn how ctDNA monitoring recapitulates subclonal evolution in NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer), how it relates to treatment response, and if it can identify recurrence sooner for more effective treatment.