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Epic, Avera Ink Deal to Use Liquid Biopsy Platform in Clinical Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Epic Sciences and Avera Medical announced today that they have signed a deal under which the healthcare network will use the company's circulating tumor cell (CTC)-detection and -analysis platform in upcoming clinical studies of precision cancer therapies.

Epic's platform, which it calls No Cell Left Behind, involves lysing red blood cells from a sample and spinning the remaining nucleated cells into a pellet, which is then resuspended and spread out into a monolayer where each cell is fixed in a particular location on a slide representing the complete cellular content of the blood at the time of collection. Immunofluorescent staining and imaging is then used to identify CTCs against the large background of normal cells.

Under the arrangement, researchers at the Avera Center for Precision Oncology will use the platform to characterize CTCs at the single-cell level for protein and genomic biomarkers in order to uncover associations between the markers and CTC heterogeneity to patient outcome.

"No tumor is the same, and cancer constantly adapts in order to survive," Avera Center for Precision Oncology Vice President Brian Leyland-Jones said in a statement. "Using Epic Sciences' liquid biopsy, we can measure both protein and genomic targets to help provide cancer care that is highly personalized and precise. As we continue to develop molecularly targeted cancer treatment, liquid biopsy can help us treat more patients more effectively."

In November, Epic signed a deal with the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center to use the No Cell Left Behind platform to find biomarkers that can predict a patient's response to cancer treatments.

Earlier last year, the company signed an agreement to make the platform available to Laboratory Corporation of America to support clinical trials in Asia, and a deal with the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trial Consortium to use the technology in prostate cancer clinical studies.