From the Team

Viewing posts from the From the Team category

Promise of Gene Therapy Being Realized?

Gene therapy has finally made it over the hump. After decades of research and some devastating setbacks, major technical hurdles have been overcome, opening up the long-anticipated promise of this field. A new approval has buoyed interest, pipelines are bubbling with new candidates and big investments are being made.

News about promising gene therapies in the clinic is sprouting up all the time. Scientific challenges remain considerable, though, and pricing will clearly be one of the biggest hurdles for gene therapies going forward.

“Today’s challenges are all around building a viable business model”

— Geoff MacKay, President and CEO of AvroBio

For the complete article at BioPharma Dive, click here.

BioPharma Dive Logo

Exciting BioPharma News

Predictive Gene Expressions

Qiagen has reported that the company and Bristol-Myers Squibb will explore the use of NGS to develop gene expression profiles as predictive or prognostic tools for use with several BMS immuno-oncology therapies. The companies also plan to enter into a further agreement to develop diagnostic products using the jointly developed profiles to expand the use of NGS technology with other BMS immuno-oncology therapies.

“Greater precision in the treatment of cancer may enable faster decision making to identify which patient populations are most likely to derive benefit from our immuno-oncology agents.”

–Fouad Namouni, Bristol-Myers Squibb

This development is an example of the trend towards companion diagnostics, in which the use of predictive biomarkers identify individually-based therapies.
Read the announcement here.

genomeweb logo

Get more genomic news at GenomeWeb

From Point of Care to Point of Clinic

Within developed world healthcare systems, there is a growing awareness that the turnaround time of the central laboratory cannot always provide the speed to enable effective and economic decision making.

See full article

Point-of-clinic diagnostic services bring analytical testing from the laboratory to the clinic with the aim of providing prompt, high-quality results.
This is an exciting area of technology that has the potential to impact the lives of many patients and play a significant role in supporting sustainable healthcare systems. Stratified medicine and more individualized approaches to care will become a focus moving forward, and diagnostics will aid the selection of the most effective medicines.

“This facilitates early diagnosis and treatment of health conditions…”

Check the full article at Qmed here.

Growing Personalized Blood Cells

An everyday problem in the medical community is a lack of blood donations which are needed for transfusions worldwide. Now researchers are looking to “brew blood.”

Using a small sample of a patient’s own blood, scientists can reprogram red blood cells back into master stem cells and then coax them back into red blood cells that are unique to that patient. They can then grow the red blood cells over and over again in the lab.

Check this new report from CBS here.

Cancer subtypes could be distinguished using metabolomic analysis

The emerging field of metabolomics has the potential to contribute significantly to biomarker discovery and cancer. While other techniques, such as DNA sequencing, have led to significant advances in precision oncology, metabolomics has yet to make its mark on the field.

New methods of using metabolomics as a tool for clinical cancer research and care were presented at the 2nd Annual Biomarker Conference by CureMatch, developer of a decision support platform for combination therapy in cancer.
See the full story at Oncology Central.

New Report on Personalized Medicine Released

For more than two millennia, medicine has maintained its aspiration of being personalized. In ancient times, Hippocrates combined an assessment of the four humors — blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile — to determine the best course of treatment for each patient. Today, the sequence of the four chemical building blocks that comprise DNA, coupled with telltale proteins in the blood, enable more accurate medical predictions.

A new report from the Personalized Medicine Coalition describes the current state of personalized medicine and the opportunities in the future.

Get the full report here.

“The power in tailored therapeutics is for us to say more clearly to payers, providers, and patients: ‘this drug is not for everyone, but it is for you.’ That is exceedingly powerful.”

–John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D. former Chairman, President, and CEO, Eli Lilly and Company

GRAIL Raises $900M to Develop Early Blood Tests for Cancer

GRAIL is combining what it calls high-intensity (ultrabroad and ultradeep) sequencing and population-based clinical trials to characterize circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in healthy individuals and cancer patients. The ultimate aim is to develop cancer diagnostics that can detect tumors early enough to cure the disease. See the full story at Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

New Article in GEN

This is a core focus for all precision medicine oncology approaches, including ours. We believe that a multi-omic focus that goes beyond circulating tumor cells can have major advantages.

Liquid Biopsy Boom

If liquid biopsies can prove effective as a diagnostic tool in the pre- and post-cancer settings, some in the industry predict the market’s value could balloon to anywhere from $20 billion to over $100 billion, according to a recent article BioPharma Dive.

Forentis finds this interesting, as much of our focus is on funding the research that can bring these types of diagnostics to market. Advancing precision medicine by applying new technologies like liquid biopsies is in our DNA. Liquid biopsies and clinical trial enrichment are critical to developing the precision treatments and companion diagnostics that will make precision medicine a reality.

“Another use of liquid biopsies is in clinical trials. As targeted therapies proliferate, pharma companies need to cast a wide net in order to enroll patients who match the specific criteria of drug studies. Using liquid biopsies to screen patients could greatly accelerate enrollment as well as lowering costs.”

BioPharma Dive

What is exciting to us is that while the industry is focused on circulating tumor cell biomarkers, we are going deeper into the human biology. If you are interested in finding out more about how we are accessing multi-omic biomarkers – give us a call!

Cancer Breath Test

A test that measures the levels of five chemicals in the breath has shown promising results for the detection of cancers of the oesophagus and stomach in a large patient trial presented at the European Cancer Congress 2017. The new research aimed to test whether this “chemical signature” that seemed to typify cancer could be the basis of a diagnostic test.

“A breath test could be used as a non-invasive, first-line test to reduce the number of unnecessary endoscopies. In the longer term this could also mean earlier diagnosis and treatment, and better survival.”

– Dr Sheraz Markar, NIHR Clinical Trials Fellow from Imperial College London

The trial was based on the results of previous research that suggested differences in the levels of specific chemicals (butyric, pentanoic and hexanoic acids, butanal, and decanal) between patients with stomach or oesophageal cancer and patients with upper gastrointestinal symptoms without cancer.

The results showed that the test was 85% accurate overall, with a sensitivity of 80% and a specificity of 81%. This means that not only was the breath test good at picking up those who had cancer (sensitivity), it was also good at correctly identifying who did not have cancer (specificity).

Find out more about this test at