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PGDx Licenses Cell-free Tumor DNA Analysis Technology from Johns Hopkins

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Personal Genome Diagnostics today announced it has licensed the exclusive rights from Johns Hopkins University to a technology for analyzing cell-free tumor DNA circulating in blood.

The technology, called Personalized Analysis of Rearranged Ends (PARE), enables whole-genome identification of changes in the tumor-specific DNA that is shed into the blood of cancer patients. According to PGDx, PARE can detect structural changes, such as genomic amplifications and rearrangements that are critical for treatment guidance. PARE, the company added, has already been used to detect cancer mutations, including amplifications in ERBB2 (HER2/neu), MET, and CDK6 in the blood of cancer patients.

Using cell-free tumor-derived DNA for genomic analyses in order to identify genetic mutations which may be responsible for therapeutic resistance allows researchers to identify such changes without having to perform analyses of tumor biopsies, PGDx said, adding its success in using the method to analyze circulating tumor DNA from blood samples "makes personalized treatment far more feasible."

"PARE's ability to go beyond identification of point mutations to detect structural changes in the genome, along with the ultra-high sensitivity of our approach, are important advances as evidenced by the fact that we were able to detect MET alterations, which are especially difficult to identify, before any clinical signs of resistance had appeared," Mark Sausen, director of R&D at PGDx, said in a statement. "By eliminating the need for repeated biopsies, use of circulating tumor DNA to inform and monitor cancer treatment should facilitate the development of new cancer drugs and enable broader adoption of personalized cancer therapy."

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.