Cynvenio Biosystems received two $195,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts from the National Cancer Institute to fund the development of blood-based lung cancer assays based on its circulating tumor cell (CTC) technology. The firm in addition raised $1.2 million from existing shareholders, as part of a committed $2 million financing.
Under the first SBIR contract Cynvenio aims to develop a LiquidBiopsy™ blood test and diagnostic device that isolates CTCs from peripheral blood, to enable analysis of an individual patient’s lung cancer mutations without the need to take a tumor biopsy. The second contract is centered on development of a CTC-based drug resistance assay that detects the T790M EGFR mutation in lung tumors. The firm says this mutation is responsible for about 50% of cases of resistance to EGFR inhibitors.
Established in 2007, California-based Cynvenio is exploiting its LiquidBiopsy platform and associated chemistry for reliably isolating CTCs from whole blood. The firm says the technology has already been independently verified against clinical patient samples. “The NCI awards reflect a growing recognition that CTCs are central to the longitudinal testing of cancer patients and the implementation of personalized medicine models,” comments André de Fusco, Cynvenio CEO. “We look forward to addressing all solid tissue tumor disease models in the future as we secure incremental funding for the LiquidBiopsy program.” If the objectives under the two SBIR Phase I awards are met, Cynvenio will be able to apply for Phase II funding of $1.5 million for each contract.