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Epistem Hoping to Apply 'Plucked Hair' Biomarker Approach to Cancer Drug Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – British biotech firm Epistem has completed a preliminary study of its plucked hair biomarker technology with AstraZeneca, the company announced today.
The minimally invasive hair biomarker system makes it possible to retrieve RNA from the base of a single, plucked human hair, facilitating gene expression measurements.
Results from the current study suggest the plucked-hair method is not only well tolerated by patients, but also provides reliable results. The researchers were able to evaluate RNA — representing over 13,000 genes — from more than 85 percent of the single hairs. The results were presented at a recent AACR-NCI-EORTC meeting in San Francisco.
By comparing the gene sets linked to tumors as well as drug exposure and toxicity, the companies hope to eventually use the hair biomarker approach to evaluate the effectiveness of new cancer treatments.
“Our published results clearly demonstrate that the method is both feasible and practical, and offers the promise of providing insights into both dose and patient selection,” Andrew Hughes, an AstraZeneca scientist, said in a statement.

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