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Epic Sciences Developing CTC-based CDx with Drug Firms

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Epic Sciences, which is developing diagnostics to identify and characterize rare cells, said today it is collaborating with six drug manufacturers to develop companion diagnostic tools.

The San Diego-based company declined to identify its drug manufacturer partners, but Genentech, Pfizer, and Celgene have previously disclosed working relationships with Epic.

A company spokesperson declined to elaborate on the nature of the work being done but said that targeted cancers include breast, lung, prostate, pancreatic, and ovarian cancers.

The collaborations include 12 clinical trials covering 40 projects measuring 18 different protein or genomic tumor markers in circulating tumor cells. The trials are being conducted in the US, Europe, and Asia with more than 1,500 patients and 2,500 clinical samples.

"Epic's mission is to improve cancer management by commercializing companion diagnostics leveraging [CTCs] as easily accessible real-time biopsy material from patients," the spokesperson said.

The company's platform can identify and characterize rare CTCs in blood. While other technologies use physical enrichment to isolate rare cells based on markers thought to be present on most cancer cells, Epic has developed an approach that instead of using enrichment strategies, identifies CTCs in the background of normal blood cells using multi-parametric analysis, she said.

She added that such an approach results in the identification of more CTCs than with first-generation technologies and in a format compatible with downstream content analysis including immunohistochemistry, fluorescent in situ hybridization, and genomics.

Epic was founded in 2008 as a spinout from Peter Kuhn's laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute.

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