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OncoCyte, Cornell Collaborate on Lung Cancer Dx

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – BioTime subsidiary OncoCyte has entered into a deal with Cornell University to collaborate on developing a lung cancer diagnostic test, the parties announced today.

As part of the deal, Weill Cornell Medical College will provide blood samples derived from healthy patients and lung cancer patients. OncoCyte researchers will then use the firm's PanC-Dx diagnostic tests to analyze the samples to determine levels of tumor-associated gene expression, including levels of the company's proprietary PanC-Dx cancer biomarkers.

A data set from more than 700 patients will be produced that combines the results of the analyses with results from a clinical study being conducted by OncoCyte's collaborators at the Wistar Institute. Those two entities announced a collaboration in the fall to develop a lung cancer diagnostic test.

Using the data, OncoCyte will evaluate potential cancer markers in order to develop a multimarker test for detecting lung cancer. OncoCyte retains all rights to develop and market its proprietary lung cancer diagnostic products under the terms of the deal, the partners said. Further financial and other terms were not disclosed.

PanC-Dx is a class of non-invasive diagnostic tests based on a set of cancer markers characterized by gene expression patterns in several cancer types. How the marker panel performs in determining disease progression in various categories of patients "will determine the specific nature of the test to be developed and the approval pathway that OncoCyte will pursue," the partners said.

They noted that the US Preventative Services Task Force recently recommended that certain high-risk patients undergo annual screenings for lung cancer. The task force suggested screening using low-dose computed tomography, a technology that while sensitive in detecting early stage lung cancer in large clinical studies also has a high false-positive rate of about 25 percent.

OncoCyte CEO Joseph Wagner said in a statement that the high number of false-positive results could result in more than $1 billion annually in unnecessary healthcare costs in the US. "Physicians, payers, and patients would therefore welcome a simple to use, low-cost, blood-based test that can help guide patient management decisions by non-invasively ruling out the presence of cancer," he said.