DiaCarta Inc., a precision molecular diagnostics company with proprietary technologies for the development of novel liquid biopsy oncology tests, recently published a study in Nature Scientific Reports that demonstrates that DiaCarta’s cfDNA biomarker algorithm could function as a prognostic biomarker and efficacy predictor for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.
DocWire News spoke with Mike Powell, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, DiaCarta, who provided insight on the company’s liquid biopsy test whose results allow physicians to evaluate chemotherapy for every patient in real time. See what Dr. Powell had to say.
*Mike Powell has since passed away since the recording of this interview. DocWire News sends its condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.
DocWire News: Can you tell us about this cfDNA biomarker algorithm and its importance?
Mike Powell: Well, as you know, when people go for therapy, cancer patients and they get treated by radiotherapy or chemotherapy, the cells get killed. Not only cancer cells, but normal cells as well. So we have a technology that allows us to detect fragments from the cancer cells and the normal cells, and we can tell whether the patient is going into toxicity, is having a toxic response just by the level of the CFDNA, because cancer cells have less CFDNA than normal cells. The technology is called RadTox and we detect actually a biomarker. There’s actually 500,000 copies of this biomarker in the human genome. So it’s a very sensitive method for detecting DNA from cancer and normal cells. So we can tell if a patient is getting treated, if cancer cells are dying and that normal cells are not being.
So that as the problem with therapy is that you have a toxic side effects. So we can determine whether the patient is having a toxic effect or not by this test that we’ve developed. And we measure the circulating free DNA from the patient’s blood, and we don’t even have to extract it. We just [inaudible 00:01:37] it. And we use a technology called branch DNA, which is a signal amplification technology that amplifies the signal of the gene that we’re detecting. So it’s very sensitive method.
What makes this test especially accurate?
It’s very accurate because we can measure the amount of cfDNA that’s being developed by measuring this gene marker that’s present in all cells, cancer cells and normal cells.
What’s the clinical significance of this test?
Well, the doctor can adjust. So for example, if the patient isn’t responding, for example, we’re getting very low levels of CFDNA, he can increase the dose of the therapy by increasing the radiation dose or giving the patient more drugs. So it’s a way to monitor the therapy. It’s a way to tell the physician how to treat the patient, how sensitive the patient is to the drug or the radiotherapy.