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Liquid Biopsy Lab to Reside at Cancer Institute

Blood sample

(Public Domain Pictures/Pixabay)

9 November 2016. A designer of liquid biopsy tests to diagnose cancer is establishing a lab to study circulating tumor cells at John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California. Financial terms of the agreement between Clearbridge BioMedics, based in Singapore, and John Wayne Cancer Institute were not disclosed.

Clearbridge BioMedics develops lab tests to diagnose cancer from a simple blood draw, rather than taking biopsies, tissue samples of suspected solid tumors that often require surgery. These liquid biopsies seek out circulating tumor cells, cells from the primary tumor that break away and flow through the blood stream. Circulating tumor cells, however, are usually few in number, requiring a highly sensitive technology to find, isolate, and analyze these cells.

The company’s technology uses microfluidics, or lab-on-a-chip, with fine channels where the chip can capture intact circulating tumor cells from the blood sample. The chip’s sensors are linked to automated analytical routines that the company says can quickly analyze the samples at a rate of 7.5 mL in 30 minutes. Data from circulating tumor cells can also be applied, says Clearbridge BioMedics, to further analysis, such as with high-throughput genomic sequencing.

Under the agreement, Clearbridge BioMedics is establishing a a Circulating Tumor Cell Center of Research Excellence at John Wayne Cancer Institute, scheduled to begin later this month. The lab is expected to analyze blood samples at first for melanoma — an advanced form of skin cancer — and later for epithelial cancers, found in the lining of organs where carcinomas, a common form of cancer, often begin. The company plans to eventually convert the research lab into a full-fledged testing lab for circulating tumor cells, meeting specified standards for medical labs.

Clearbridge BioMedics established a similar research lab at National Cancer Centre Singapore and Singapore General Hospital in 2014. The company is a spin-off enterprise from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, or SMART, and the first participant in the Clearbridge Accelerator, a high-technology incubator backed by the Singapore Government’s National Research Foundation.

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