Epic Sciences Launches Single-Cell Microsatellite and Chromosomal Instability Genomic Analysis

02 November 2017

New capability identifies sub-clonal tumor microsatellite instability in metastatic cancers to understand patient selection for PD-1 inhibitors, PARP inhibitors, and combination therapies

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Epic Sciences, Inc. adds simultaneous microsatellite instability (MSI) and chromosomal instability (CIN) measurements, also known as genomic scarring analysis, to the single cell next generation sequencing (NGS) workflow for clinical research of immuno-oncology therapies. MSI is currently utilized to identify patients who may respond to PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors across multiple cancer indications. However, the prevalence of patients with high levels of MSI in their cancers, currently identified through invasive tissue biopsy or circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) analysis, often represents a very minor percent of the patient population in some cancer indications. This significantly reduces the effect of MSI as a biomarker in predicting clinical benefit from immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

To illustrate the power of these new single-cell genomic analyses, Epic Sciences analyzed circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from the blood of metastatic prostate cancer patients. The results revealed multiple patients that had sub-clonal high MSI CTCs amongst a predominance of CTCs with low MSI. Some of the CTCs with low MSI had high levels of genomic scarring.   

"Patient selection for PD-1 inhibitors and PD-1 combination therapies remains a very large and growing unmet medical need," said Mark Landers, vice president of translational research at Epic Sciences. "The ability to examine and monitor sub-clonal microsatellite instability, often missed by tissue and ctDNA analysis, in the context of disease heterogeneity, clonality, and PD-L1 expression will rapidly improve our understanding of the biology underlying clinical responses to checkpoint inhibitors."

Recently, synergistic benefits of combining PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors with DNA damage repair targeted therapies such as ATR and PARP inhibitors have been reported. Markers for response to these therapies individually (MSI and genomic scarring, respectively) are traditionally thought to be mutually exclusive mechanisms of drug response.

"By understanding the prevalence of both MSI and genomic scarring indicative of homologous recombination deficiency in single cells within individual patients, we have a unique view to understand why patients may benefit from PD-1 and PARP inhibitors in combination, but are unlikely to respond to either drug class as single agent therapies," said Landers. "In the immediate future, we will be applying this new analysis to a number of clinical studies with our academic and biopharma partners to deliver exclusive insights into patient response to PD-1, PARP, and combination therapies."

About Epic Sciences

Epic Sciences, Inc. is developing novel diagnostics to personalize and advance the treatment and management of cancer. Epic Sciences' mission is to enable the rapid and non-invasive detection of genetic and molecular changes in cancer throughout a patient's journey. The company was founded on a powerful platform to identify and characterize rare cells, including circulating tumor cells. Epic Sciences No Cell Left Behind® technology helps match patients to therapies and monitor for drug resistance, so that the best treatment path can be chosen at every clinical decision point. Epic Sciences has partnered with Genomic Health to commercialize the Oncotype DX® AR-V7 Nucleus Detect™test, which helps with therapeutic decisions between taxane chemotherapy or androgen-directed therapeutics in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Today, we partner with leading pharmaceutical companies and major cancer centers around the world. Epic Sciences' goal is to increase the success rate of cancer drugs in clinical trials and improve patient outcomes by providing physicians real-time information to guide treatment choices. Epic Sciences is headquartered in San Diego.

Further information is available on the Company's website, www.epicsciences.com.


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