Q: CellMax has developed non-invasive blood tests based on Circulating tumor cells CTC. How do you see these tests being adopted clinically?
A: As we all know, early detection is the only real cure for cancer. For most cancers the majority of patients are still diagnosed too late. We need convenient, affordable and accurate tests- that have the ability to detect cancer early- to meaningfully impact outcomes.
It has long been known that CTCs are the earliest sign of tumor cells in the blood-stream and finding them with a routine blood test would be an ‘ideal” screening test for early-detection of cancer. The unsolved technology problem is one of finding the proverbial needle in a haystack – 1-10 CTCs among a billion normal cells. At CellMax, after many years of extensive research we have found the needle. We have shown via multiple, prospective multi-year studies, published in peer-reviewed journals, that CellMax’s proprietary CTC CMx platform is highly sensitive, and globally affordable, for the early detection of cancer.
In 2016, we commercially launched our early-detection CTC blood tests.
CellMax’s CMx platform is also able to release these CTCs intact for further downstream interrogation of multiple clinically actionable analytes including DNA and Expression. This is very valuable for drug-development, as it allows us to enable Immuno-Oncology therapy development.
All this also means that CellMax is also able to offer to a patient diagnosed with cancer, a complete Liquid-Biopsy than from ctDNA alone, including PDL-1 protein expression detection for Immunotherapy eligibility.
Q: A lot of investment going into ctDNA technology. What role do you see CTCs playing?
A: In cancer, early detection is the only cure. Mostly cancer outcomes have changed only for those cancers that have a simple, routine, non-invasive affordable tests like PSA & Pap-smear. Early Detection Blood Tests have to be an order of magnitude cheaper than tests that rely on NGS using a single biomarker like ctDNA. CTCs – assuming the platform can find the “needle” – pass the affordability test.
On the disease side, a multi-biomarker approach is required. DNA is one of many actionable biomarkers in oncology. With CTCs, once the cancer cell is captured, it can be analyzed comprehensively for multiple actionable markers- DNA but also RNA and Methylation among others.
For ctDNA, the main enabler is Illumina and we see this rapidly becoming the lowest-common-denominator- if it isn’t already. Any lab with an Illumina sequencer and a ctDNA kit could claim to offer ctDNA based Liquid biopsy for advanced cancer. The challenge for ctDNA then is to do this cost-effectively, so anyone can access this test without needing insurance reimbursement. This is what we enable with our CTC CMx and NGS SMSeq platforms
Q: You have accredited labs in Asia and the US. How do you see differences in Asia and US?
A: Asia has several large population countries and there is significant need for an affordable early cancer detection. Locating in Asia allows us to offer fast turnaround for Asia but also the Middle-East.
In Asia tests are mostly self-pay. Any diagnostics – especially on the healthy screening side – that relies on insurance re-imbursement to be affordable is bound to fail. Used to be that Asia would wait for the US to first adopt – however nothing could be further from reality now. One common complaint in Asia is that many companies in the US have no clue about the price-points that work in Asia where there are no insurance companies to underwrite un-neccesarily over-priced tests. CellMax strategy from the beginning has been to offer globally affordable early cancer detection tests.
The 14th Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) will take place at the University of Michigan on June 6-7, 2018. This conference coincides with University of Michigan’s launch of a new Precision Health research initiative that integrates U of M’s strengths in Medicine, Engineering, Pharmacy, and Public Health. This initiative combines biomedical expertise, big data, and the social sciences enabling a comprehensive approach to providing patients with tailored health solutions.
To support the University of Michigan’s goal to bring together leading researchers from across the university and the country to springboard this new and exciting research initiative, PMWC and U-M have agreed that the campus is an optimal location for the next conference. This forum will showcase practical content that helps close the knowledge gap among different sectors, thereby catalyzing cross-functional fertilization and collaboration to benefit both University of Michigan and PMWC attendees.
The program will feature innovative technologies, and analyze the success of already thriving initiatives and clinical case studies that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the latest developments and advances in precision medicine and cutting-edge strategies and solutions that are fundamentally changing how patients are treated. This is reflected in the Program Theme: “Big Data in Action: Insights in the Clinic”.
- Two Track Program will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to: Transforming Big Data Into Actionable Information, Personalized Modeling of P4 Health, Emerging Technologies in Precision Medicine, The Economic and Socio-political Aspects of Precision Medicine, Precision Cancer Therapy, Session Scalable Infrastructure/Platforms to Power NGS for the Clinic, Genomic Data and Precision Health, Challenges and Barriers at the Community Setting, Opioid Precision Health, Pharmacogenomics Today and Tomorrow.
- A lineup of 100+ highly regarded speakers featuring pioneering researchers and authorities across the healthcare and biotechnology sectors – browse select PMWC 2018 SV recorded talks
- Luminary and Pioneer Awards, honoring individuals who contributed, and continue to contribute, to the field of Precision Medicine
- 500+ multidisciplinary attendees, from across the entire spectrum of healthcare, representing different types of companies, technologies, and medical centers with leadership roles in precision medicine
- Track 2-PMWC 2018 Michigan Showcase, enable 15-minute company presentations on latest novel technologies. See past PMWC Showcase presenters. Nominate here or apply to present here.
Confirmed thought leaders include: