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the extremely rare tumor cells can actually be collected from the filter for genetic analysis. That’s something that existing tumor-cell counting technologies can’t do yet, according to Coutts.
Luke reminds me that researchers who really dig into this technology are also going to ask hard questions about whether some of the microtumors are really correlated with more suffering and shorter lifespan for patients, or whether they are actually a false alarm. Answering questions like that will take time and money.
Still, there is a renewed push going on in academia to find ways to detect cancer accurately, and at earlier stages. The ability to genetically analyze a patient’s cancer cells—so that oncologists can determine the optimum course of treatment—is considered one of the defining hallmarks of personalized medicine, Coutts said. “With all these solid tumors, we’re going to see tremendous use of biomarkers to determine the right course of treatment,” he added. In a patient with breast cancer, for example, Coutts said genetic analysis of the circulating tumor cells can help determine which patients will respond to drugs like Genentech’s trastuzumab (Herceptin).
“We’re planning to launch our first test for breast cancer this fall,” Coutts said by telephone earlier this week, in an update on Biocept’s progress. “We’re going to follow up in the first quarter of 2011 with the launch of other tests for non-small cell lung cancer and colo-rectal cancer,” he added.
All of the capital that Biocept has raised so far has come from … Next Page »
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