New radiation therapy companion Dx in the works

Cancer diagnostics startup CvergenX will work jointly with the National Cancer Institute to develop a new diagnostic that would predict the likely success of radiation therapy. The goal is to bring the test to market within three years.

While financial details aren't being disclosed, the deal is termed as a "commercial collaboration agreement" between both sides, focused on using CvergenX's InterveneXRT technology to develop a diagnostic that will be tested in human trials and submitted for FDA approval. The NCI will provide financing, expertise and labor through the Clinical Assay Development Network, a national network of CLIA certified labs.

It is yet another advance of personalized medicine. But this time, the test would identify cancer patients who would respond best to radiotherapy treatment. Mary Del Brady, chairman and CEO of CvergenX, asserts in a statement that her company is the first to develop a companion diagnostic for radiation therapy.

Initially, the project will focus on using the test to predict the potential success of radiation therapy on rectal cancer patients. The idea is to screen for individuals for which preoperative chemotherapy/radiation won't help. It's an important patient group to start with because preoperative radiation therapy is considered a standard of care for these patients, the company notes, particularly those who have cancer in stage two or three.

The technology involved is known as a radiosensitivity molecular signature. Based on the gene-expression profile of 20 genes, the Moffit Cancer Center developed the genetic biomarkers to help select breast cancer patients whose tumors will respond best to chemotherapy. CvergenX is a Moffit spinoff company, and it licensed the technology last year.

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