Oncotrace - Biotech, Pharma and Life Science Channel

14:39 EST 10th December 2018 | BioPortfolio

For optimal treatment in cancerology, clinicians need specific, precise, sensitive methods to quantify treatment response, monitor residual disease and detect early recurrence in patients. Residual disease monitoring has become common practice in many haematological cancers (e.g. leukaemia), meaning decisions on personalised treatment can be taken. All this has been possible because of the presence of recurrent somatic genomic rearrangements in cancers (like the gene BCR-ABL). These recurrent rearrangements mean blood tests can be developed and used to monitor tumour DNA in the bloodstream.

Approaches like these haven’t yet been developed for solid epithelial tumours because these don't have recurrent genomic rearrangements as haematological cancers do. However, all these tumour genomes are characterised by specific rearrangements which can be used as personalised biomarkers. Recent studies have shown that this kind of approach to detect rearrangements is now possible due to the decrease  in the price of  complete human genome sequencing (i.e. the entire genome of tumour cells and normal cells). Different molecular diagnostic approaches showed that the technology was sensitive enough to be able to detect very small quantities of tumour DNA in the blood (mutations and/or rearrangements).

OncoTRACE (RUO) gives a differential analysis of the tumour genome and the normal DNA genome of the patient. There are three steps:

  • Discovery of biomarkers specific to the tumour of the patient: personalised biomarkers which could be mutations, genetic rearrangements, etc.
  • Validation of the biomarkers discovered and development of a test for their detection in the blood
  • Routine semi-quantitative analysis of personalised biomarkers in a simple blood sample.
  • This test is only done for research purposes, although the usefulness of personalised biomarkers has been validated in different scientific publications. The discovery and validation of personalised biomarkers is a step for which the time taken is fairly unpredictable. Once the test has been validated, however, the analysis of the biomarkers in the blood is very quick (less than 5 days).

The diagnostic advantages of this new approach are obvious:

  • Extremely specific: They are personalised biomarkers, specific to the tumour of the patient
  • Very quick (analysis in less than 5 days when the personalised biomarkers have been  validated)
  • No major  invasive intervention: A simple blood sample
  • Greater sensitivity enabling earlier detection of recurrence (cf. imaging only detects tumours bigger than 0.5 cm). It can therefore detect a recurrence 6 months earlier than imaging.
  • Information is semi-quantitative which means diagnosis is more precise and we can  have an early indicator of the response to the treatment chosen.

OncoTRACE uses a set of cutting edge technologies to discover and validate the choice of biomarkers specific to the tumour of the patient. We either use complete sequencing to see the big differences between the normal and tumour genomes or we  search for specific mutations using gene panels or the exome.
For routine blood analysis, we also use different quantification technologies such as RQPCR and digital PCR, depending on the type of specific biomarker discovered and validated.

OncoDNA provide the oncologist with an electronic report giving the progression of  tumour biomarker concentration in the blood (as a percentage) via our web portal, OncoVISION, or by pdf.

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