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Cynvenio Gets SBIR Awards from NCI for CTC-based Tests

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cynvenio Biosystems today announced it was awarded two contracts from the National Cancer Institute to develop lung cancer tests based on isolating mutation-bearing circulating tumor cells from whole blood.

Additionally, the Westlake Village, Calif.-based privately held company said that it received $1.2 million from existing shareholders as part of a $2 million financing authorized by its board.

The Small Business Innovation Research Phase I contracts are for $195,000 each. Cynvenio is using one contract to develop a LiquidBiopsy blood test and a companion diagnostic device to identify DNA mutations associated with lung cancer. The test and companion diagnostic device will isolate CTCs from the peripheral blood of patients.

Analysis of DNA mutations currently calls for a biopsy, which Cynvenio said is "clinically impractical to perform repeatedly over time for longitudinal studies." However, extracting CTCs for molecular analysis offers an attractive alternative strategy for genotyping patient-specific tumors and mutations, it said.

The company is using its second SBIR grant to develop a CTC-based test to measure drug resistance in lung cancer patients. Other than a biopsy, no current methods exist to analyze such resistance in solid tissue tumor cells, making testing for molecular markers that emerge during treatment impossible, Cynvenio said.

The company will seek to develop and characterize a CTC-based molecular test and demonstrate its application in clinical samples. Resistance to lung cancer drugs is caused half the time by a T790M mutation, and extracting CTCs released into the bloodstream for detecting the emergence of the mutation could lead to genotyping patient-specific tumor cells in real time, Cynvenio said.

"This will produce a fundamentally enabling technology for predictive cancer tests in personalized medicine," it said.

If successful in carrying out the goals of the Phase I funding, the company would be eligible to apply for $1.5 million in Phase II funding for each contract.

Cynvenio's core technology is its LiquidBiopsy platform for rare cell isolation for biomedical research and cancer diagnostics. The technology can be used as a "precursor" to next-generation sequencing and for the mutational profiling of cancer cells from whole blood, it said.

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