Transgenomic, Inc. (OTCBB: TBIO) today announced that it has begun a collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to evaluate the use of the Company's very high sensitivity ICE COLD-PCR mutation detection technology in analysis of DNA isolated from circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in blood samples from patients with advanced cancer.
This study will be supervised jointly by Dr. Filip Janku, Assistant Professor, Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and by Dr. Katherine Richardson, VP Research & Development, and Dr. Marcia Lewis, VP Biomarker Development, at Transgenomic, Omaha, NE. Dr. Janku's research interest at the MD Anderson Cancer Center is understanding the effectiveness of targeted therapies in the treatment of cancer.
The new class of targeted-therapy cancer drugs has radically changed cancer treatment regimens. They specifically block mutated proteins in tumor cells, switching off key tumor growth pathways. The selection of the correct pathway-blocking drugs requires knowledge about the DNA mutations in tumor cells. See Janku et al 2010 (Nat Rev Clin Oncol 7; 401-14) for a recent review of this subject.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) can be routinely isolated from a cancer patient's blood sample and, with adequate enrichment, biomarkers in these CTCs can be analysed to determine current disease therapy options. CTC analysis may also be feasible when there is no solid tumor to biopsy. CTC analysis in blood is also a much easier and safer procedure than tumor biopsy.
CTCs are very rare in blood and difficult to analyze by traditional genomic methods. Transgenomic's ICE COLD-PCR is a simple assay technology that has the ability to enrich very low levels of mutant DNA such that the tumor biomarkers can be sensitively detected by standard DNA sequencing from these circulating tumor cells.
This collaboration will study the use of ICE COLD-PCR to determine the presence or absence of biomarkers before, during and after targeted-therapy, information that will guide a clinician on the effectiveness of specific cancer treatments, cancer relapse or the appearance of new mutations that cause new drug resistance in a patient's cancer.