TumorGen Inc., a biotechnology company, has received a $390,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to validate a revolutionary microfluidic platform used to develop anti-metastatic therapies.
With this funding, the company will test the new technology in lung cancer patients, capturing metastatic cancer cell clusters (MCCCs) in their blood. Analyzing MCCCs will lead to new drugs that directly target metastasis, potentially saving many lives.
Cancer treatments, particularly immunotherapies, have made tremendous advances in recent years; however, despite these breakthroughs, metastasis remains deadly. Researchers and clinicians have largely focused on primary tumors, yet 90% of cancer patients die from metastasis.
"Metastasis is the real killer of any cancer," said Jeffrey K. Allen, Ph.D., TumorGen's Founder, President and CEO. "It's time we start focusing on metastasis and change the way cancer is treated."
TumorGen scientists believe targeting MCCCs is the key to halting metastasis. These clusters are the malignant messengers tumors release into the blood stream to attack other vital organs. Unfortunately, MCCCs are extremely rare and challenging to find.
"It's beyond difficult to develop new drugs that directly target metastasis if we can't find and study the cells that are causing the cancer to spread," said Darren Finlay, Ph.D., Director of Tumor Analysis at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, an NCI-Designated Cancer Center and Co-Investigator on the grant. Dr. Finlay also stated: "TumorGen's MCCC capture platform combines biomimicry and antibody-based cancer cluster capture technology in a revolutionary microfluidic system. It leverages the same bio-molecules found in human blood vessels; the same bio-molecules cancer cells use to home in on new metastatic sites."
Using this advanced microfluidic platform, TumorGen scientists will isolate extremely rare MCCCs from patients' whole blood. Analyzing the captured MCCCs can reveal previously unseen therapeutic targets directly linked to metastasis.
"By giving biopharmaceutical companies better insights to develop cluster-buster drugs that stop metastasis, we give them a critical new tool to develop life-saving medicines," said Dr. Allen. "This technology has the power to refocus research on metastasis, where it's most needed."
For more information about TumorGen and to monitor the latest development updates, visit the website: www.tumorgen.net.
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