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Natera Joins UK Longitudinal Breast Cancer Liquid Biopsy Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Natera said today that it has entered a research collaboration with Imperial College London and the University of Leicester to retrospectively evaluate the company's Signatera circulating tumor DNA technology for the detection of disease recurrence in breast cancer patients.

Natera launched Signatera for use by oncology researchers and biopharmaceutical companies earlier this year following the publication of initial results evaluating the use of the assay in the TRACERx study. The firm also expects to make the approach available for clinical use next year.

The study announced today has been funded by Cancer Research UK to help identify the optimal biomarkers for prediction of disease progression in women with breast cancer after they receive surgery and adjuvant therapy.

Signatera involves analyzing whole-exome sequencing data from a patient's tumor sample to design a custom assay that is then applied to blood samples, and can detect variant allele frequencies down to 0.01 percent.

Researchers will use Natera's test to retrospectively analyze blood samples from breast cancer patients who completed chemotherapy and were deemed to be at risk for disease recurrence. Patients in the study were monitored with blood tests and physical exams for up to four years, and results are expected to be available in 2018.

"We believe circulating tumor DNA may provide a meaningful guide to predict disease progression before scans for patients with breast cancer [and] we are pleased to partner with Natera to explore this exciting new biomarker," Jacqui Shaw, University of Leicester professor and co-principal investigator on the study, said in a statement.

In addition to the breast cancer study, Natera has also said it is evaluating Signatera in bladder cancer patients in collaboration with Aarhus University in Denmark.