In their blood
July 2012
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


LAUSANNE, Switzerland—Biocartis SA announced in late May that its researchers—in collaboration with researchers at the Hinxton, U.K.-based Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and at Eindhoven, the Netherlands-based Philips Research—are developing a novel workflow for extraction, amplification and detection of tumor DNA on Biocartis' diagnostic platforms.
Although three parties are involved in the work, Biocartis reports that it will retain its full intellectual property rights, along with access to intellectual property created during the scope of this collaboration.  
The partners believe that availability of this kind of test—an automated blood-based assay system for monitoring tumor load— will have a major impact on personalizing the treatment of tumors, thus increasing the quality of clinical care and the quality of life for cancer patients.
"Individual decisions on treatment duration and intensity will be in reach and ultimately, this could allow drugs to be targeted to only those patients who show meaningful response, reducing unnecessary side effects and improving effectiveness," Biocartis noted in the news release about the deal.  
Cancer is caused by the accumulation of genetic damage in cells within a particular organ, Biocartis pointed out, adding that because these mutations are only found in the cancerous cells, they could be used to monitor the tumor load during treatment and rapidly evaluate treatment response.  
"The system will use disposable, microfluidic cartridges with digitally encoded microparticles for the rapid and sensitive detection of multiple DNA samples. The test aims to be highly specific and sensitive, being able to isolate and detect just a few molecules of tumor DNA per milliliter of blood," said Dr. Patrick van den Bogaard, director of life science research at Biocartis, in an official statement. "To implement such tests in a real-world healthcare system requires development of fully automated, high-multiplexing diagnostic instruments and technology, which is the core focus of Biocartis."  
This is the first time Biocartis has collaborated with Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Philips Research. Ultimately, the test they design is envisioned as being broadly applicable for all types of solid, metastatic tumors, according to Nader Donzel, chief technology officer at Biocartis and head of its DMAT business unit. DMAT, which stands for Dynamic Multi-Analyte Technology, is the codename of Biocartis' Multiplex Assay Platform, which enables accelerated development of multi- analyte assays, reduces time-to-result and hands-on time, and provides high-quality protein and nucleic acid-based biomarker analysis.
"From a timing perspective, this collaboration is well placed in the sense that as a company, you find yourself at a juncture—as we are now—where you feel that your technology offers significant advantages over existing technology, but you don't have the full package of funding, data or support that you need," Donzel tells ddn. "So, coming into this collaboration was an excellent way to demonstrate and validate Biocartis' claims of its technology and have access to patient samples and expanded opportunities. For the other partners, it opens for them a clinical perspective that they cannot achieve with other technologies and offers them a new way of looking at the solutions that can get them faster and better clinical data."
Code: E071215

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