Illumina and Sloan Kettering join forces for liquid biopsy research

Rick Klausner

As diagnostics companies zero in on a fast-growing liquid biopsy field, Illumina ($ILMN) is teaming up with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) to study circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) for cancer treatment.

Illumina will work with MSK on research trials aimed at uncovering biological and clinical information about ctDNA in multiple cancer types, and validating a ctDNA test that can find a link between ctDNA signals and cancer, the pair said in a statement. MSK will collect samples as part of the program, and Illumina will lend its sequencing tech to the initiative. Ultimately, the team hopes to address issues in liquid biopsy technology, including whether or not ctDNA is superior to other diagnostics for cancer, Rick Klausner, Illumina's SVP and CMO, said in a statement.

"This relationship between Illumina and MSK will create important data regarding the value, the significance and the potential applications of measuring ctDNA via deep sequencing," Klausner said in a statement. "Can we replace expensive and invasive monitoring with a blood test? Does ctDNA reflect the total burden of cancer clones, and is it equivalent to or better than biopsies at predicting outcome and therapeutic response? These are the types of questions we will work towards answering."

Illumina is not the only company looking to make waves with liquid biopsy technology. Diagnostics outfits such as Biocept ($BIOC) and Sequenom ($SQNM) are also getting in on the action, striking research deals to expand their footprint in the field. Last month, Biocept said it would work with the University of California, Irvine, to evaluate blood-based biomarkers for patients with metastatic cancers. A couple of weeks later, Sequenom announced that it would team up with the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center to use its liquid biopsy test to monitor cancer patients and help them find a suitable treatment.

- read the statement

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