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Biocept, Baylor to Develop Estrogen Receptor Liquid Biopsy Tests

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Biocept today announced a collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine to develop blood-based tests using Biocept's circulating tumor cell and circulating tumor DNA assay platforms.

Specifically, the partners aim to detect mutations in the estrogen receptor gene (ESR1) in order to guide treatment for women with breast cancer, and hope to develop assays to identify the emergence of mutations that confer resistance to endocrine therapies like Tamoxifen.

Tissue biopsy is not always practical for monitoring the development of drug resistance mutations in cancer patients due to health concerns in those with advanced disease, and due to tumor heterogeneity. This makes liquid biopsy approaches, like Biocept's, more attractive and potentially more appropriate in such applications.

Suzanne Fuqua, professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine said in a statement that she and her colleagues will work with Biocept to determine the role of specific mutations in ER-α — specifically K303R and Y537N Era alterations —  and further explore the relationship of these markers to hormone therapy resistance. 

"Monitoring during hormone therapy is gaining added importance due to recently presented data that indicates that these mutations can potentially predict future clinical relapse. This suggests that we may improve our ability to tailor individual therapies for ER-positive patients in the near future," she said.

According to Biocept, ESR1 mutations, beyond indicating resistance to initial endocrine therapies, may also have potential as companion diagnostics to newer drugs that directly address these mechanisms of resistance.

Earlier this year, Biocept announced another collaboration on ER-positive breast cancer with the Sarah Cannon Research Institute.