The company, which has licensed intellectual property related to use of the auto-antibodies from UCSD, aims to develop the diagnostics first as CLIA-based tests and ultimately in a microarray format available to physicians.
The goal is to identify patient-specific rearrangements in the primary tumor, and then check for the presence of that rearrangement in the patient's blood during treatment in order to determine tumor progression and monitor therapy response.
Researchers used a variety of bioinformatics tools to crunch data from nearly two-dozen gene expression studies of colorectal cancer, identifying pathways that are enriched in past prognostic studies of the disease.
Next-generation sequencing "is emerging more and more as an approach to supplement how patients [with cancer] are treated, so we wanted to try and iron out the technical aspects of it … so we can really feel confident that as a methodology, it works."
The patents cover the selection of non-small cell lung cancer patients, colorectal cancer patients, and head and neck cancer patients for treatment with drugs targeting the epidermal growth-factor receptor pathway.
Dubbed OncoTrack, the project is being funded for five years with around €27 million, and will involve whole-genome sequencing of the primary tumors of 60 colon cancer patients and matched normal genomes.