NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research has awarded €1 million ($1.3 million) to Exosome Diagnostics GmbH and the department of dermatology at the Ludwig Maximilian University to develop exosome-based diagnostic technology to detect tumor-specific mutations.
The technology will use stable RNA content to detect mutations in blood in order to enable the monitoring of disease recurrence, aid in therapy decision-making, and possibly improve early tumor detection.
The grant was awarded under the Leading-Edge Cluster program "m4 – Personalized Medicine and Targeted Therapies," an initiative targeting personalized medicine.
In a joint statement, the university and Exosome Diagnostics GmbH, a subsidiary of Exosome Diagnostics, said that their research will be targeted at tumor-specific somatic mutations, including those found in the RAF and RAS gene families and use exosome-based technology combined with next-generation sequencing and qPCR platforms.
Exosome Diagnostics is developing an ultra-deep, multiplexed sequencing method using RNA from blood and urine exosome preparations. The method can detect with high sensitivity rare gene mutations upregulated into exosomes by cancer cells, it said.
Exosome Diagnostics GmbH plans to offer clinical diagnostic tests developed from the award as a commercial laboratory service out of its St. Paul, Minn., and Munich cGLP laboratories.
"Exosome technology allows us to repeatedly interrogate tumor, inflammatory, and immune response gene signatures in a minimally invasive manner," James McCullough, CEO of Exosome Diagnostics, said in a statement. "By isolating exosomes, we avoid a host of complicating factors, such as circulating enzymes, platelets, and other interfering factors, that are a significant detriment to achieving diagnostic sensitivity and reproducibility."
Microvesicles, of which exosomes are a subset, contain large amounts of mRNA derived from tumors, and when isolated, the microvesicle/exosome population "provides a stable source of RNA in blood, urine, and [cerebrospinal fluid] that, when isolated and prepared properly, can produce high diagnostic sensitivity for key gene mutations and gene expression levels," the partners said.