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ApoCell Lands $1M NCI Contract to Build Out CTC Technology

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Clinical research firm ApoCell said today that it has been awarded a two-year, $1 million contract from the National Cancer Institute to further develop its circulating tumor cell technology.

The Small Business Innovation Research Phase II contract will go toward the development of Houston-based ApoCell's point-of-care clinical device called ApoStream. The contract covers all of the project's costs and was awarded after the company successfully completed its SBIR Phase I contract, during which it investigated and demonstrated the use of ApoStream in a POC setting.

The new funding will support R&D work that includes enhancing ApoStream's ease of use, improving its overall system performance, and improving the automation of quality control, ApoCell President and CEO Darren Davis said. The funding also will be used to demonstrate the clinical use of ApoStream "through the detection of gene mutation in CTCs collected from the blood samples of non-small cell lung cancer patients."

The technology uses antibody-independent dielectrophoresis in a continuous flow process. Significant quantities of intact CTCs from various cancer types are enriched, allowing for more robust downstream analysis, ApoCell said.

ApoStream is targeted for a 2014 launch as a research-use-only tool. The company plans to launch it as a POC clinical device in 2016.

The technology was developed at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's Laboratory of Diagnostic Microsystems, and ApoCell has an exclusive license to it.