Biocept partners with UC Irvine on liquid biopsy research

Liquid biopsy player Biocept ($BIOC) is teaming up with the University of California, Irvine, to evaluate blood-based biomarkers (as opposed to tissue-based ones) in patients with metastatic cancers. The duo hopes to validate liquid biopsies as a treatment guide for precision medicines and develop a system for monitoring tumor mutations to identify signs of resistance to therapy.

Liquid biopsies offer advantages over the traditional ones that involve the collection of cancerous tissue. Blood-based diagnostics are generally less expensive and certainly less invasive. In addition, sometimes traditional biopsies do not collect enough tumor tissue for analysis, Biocept says.

"We expect that our collaboration with the University of California, Irvine will provide further clinical validation for the use of Biocept's liquid biopsy biomarker assays in patients with advanced cancers, including metastatic lung cancer," said Dr. Veena Singh, senior medical director of Biocept, in a statement. "Our ability to test for well-recognized and clinically validated biomarkers utilizing our liquid biopsy platform provides a great advantage to patients both in monitoring and at the time of diagnosis when tumor tissue may be insufficient for additional testing or for therapy alteration due to the well-documented issue of tumor heterogeneity." 

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network already recommends testing for lung cancer biomarkers like the cell surface receptor EGFR, the ALK gene and protein, and the ROS1 gene. The presence of the biomarkers is used to stratify patients, with those who display EGFR receiving Roche's ($RHHBY) Tarceva and ALK-positive patients given Pfizer's ($PFE) Xalkori, for example.

According to the company's testing menu, Biocept offers two lung cancer liquid biopsies, one to detect breast cancer biomarkers and one for gastric cancer. The company can also enumerate circulating tumor cells. CLIA-validated assays for prostate and other solid tumors are slated to be launched soon.

During Q2 2015, total sample volume (including commercial, development and research assays) was 525, up 46% from 359 in the previous quarter. Commercial sample volume of 336 was up from three commercial cases from the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, revenues rose by 305% year-over-year to $77,000 in Q2, while R&D expenses fell 30% to $772,000. And the company experienced a net loss of $4 million during the quarter.

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Special Report:  Five companies to watch in the liquid biopsy field - Biocept