NCI awards tumour diagnostics development contract to BioMarker Strategies

24 October 2011

The US National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded BioMarker Strategies a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract to develop a pathway-based companion diagnostic test for drug inhibitors targeting the ErbB signal transduction network. 

The NCI awarded Phase 1 funding of $200,000. The company will be eligible to apply for Phase 2 funding of $1.5m if the first phase is successfully completed. The company also announced, in an SEC regulatory filing, that the company raised more than $2.3 million from investors during the month of August.

The company will use funding from this SBIR award and its investors to expand its predictive test development program for use in its automated SnapPath live tumor cell testing system.  Under this award, initial tumor types will include melanoma and breast cancer.

 In the SnapPath device, live tumor cells from human biopsies are stimulated to evoke phosphoprotein-based Functional Signaling Profiles (FSP) that are not possible in dead, fixed tumor tissue. These profiles will assist oncologists in determining which targeted drug treatments, or classes of targeted drugs, will benefit their cancer patients.

In their program announcement, the NCI sought proposals that “stimulate research, development, and commercialization of innovative tests and technology platforms” for all types of companion diagnostic applications.
“This additional funding will help us to expand our predictive test development pipeline, which includes companion diagnostics for drugs targeting the ErbB signaling network that includes a large number of the targeted cancer drugs under development today,” said Dr. Douglas Clark, Acting CEO of BioMarker Strategies. “This NCI award also signals the growing recognition that static, nucleic acid-based biomarkers will not be enough to predict patient response to drug therapies, and that new, pathway-based, approaches using living cells will be needed to enable personalized medicine for cancer.”  


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