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GEN News Highlights : Jan 21, 2014

PGDx Picks Up Johns Hopkins' Circulating Tumor DNA-Analyzing Technology

Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx) is licensing exclusive rights to PARE (Personalized Analysis of Rearranged Ends), a new technology from Johns Hopkins University that can be used to analyze cell-free tumor DNA circulating in patients' blood. PGDx, which was founded by researchers from Johns Hopkins, is currently using PARE along with other technologies licensed from Johns Hopkins such as digital karyotyping to run "liquid biopsy" genomic tests, or genomic tests using samples from blood and other bodily fluids rather than tumor biopsies.

PGDx describes PARE as an ultrasensitive technique that enables whole-genome identification of changes in the tumor-specific DNA shed into the circulation of cancer sufferers. PARE has the ability to detect structural changes in circulating tumor DNA, including the genomic amplifications and rearrangements critical for determining the routes treating the cancer should take, whereas other approaches can detect only point mutations. PGDx says PARE has been successfully used on patients to detect mutations such as amplifications in ERBB2 (HER2/neu), MET, and CDK6.

The firm believes its success in analyzing circulating tumor DNA using blood samples makes personalized treatment far more feasible.

"By eliminating the need for repeated biopsies, use of circulating tumor DNA to inform and monitor cancer treatment should facilitate the development of new cancer drugs and enable broader adoption of personalized cancer therapy," said Mark Sausen, Ph.D., director of R&D at PGDx.

For more on liquid biopsies, be sure to check out "Liquid Biopsies: An Area You Need to Watch".