San Diego molecular diagnostics outfit Trovagene ($TROV) is teaming up with US Oncology Research to determine whether Trovagene's urine-based cancer test can detect and monitor a genetic mutation commonly associated with pancreatic cancer.
Trovagene's diagnostic, launched in October, was the first of its kind to detect the BRAF V600E mutation--associated with several types of cancer--from cell-free DNA in urine. At the time, the company was also developing separate tests to identify other gene mutations, including the pancreatic cancer-related KRAS.
It's now tied up with US Oncology Research for help with that. The hoped-for result is a minimally invasive alternative to CT scans and tests for the blood marker CA19-9. The latter may not be displayed in up to 17% of pancreatic cancer patients. The joint effort will begin enrolling up to 45 patients in the beginning of 2014, according to a release.
"We desperately need new ways to follow our patients with pancreatic cancer, particularly those without any other markers," said Daniel Von Hoff, McKesson Specialty Health and US Oncology Network research director, in a statement. "It is important for our US Oncology Research team to be testing this new approach."
Diversifying its cancer tests could be just what Trovagene needs after a year that saw slumping profits due to what executives say was a result of higher R&D costs and higher operating expenses as it prepared for the rollout of the first test. As of Sept. 30, the company held about $28 million in cash and equivalents, bolstered by a $15 million direct stock offering in July.
"The study is designed to provide comprehensive qualitative and quantitative clinical results for our multiplexed KRAS NGS assay, and is an important part of our strategic objective to integrate the use of our proprietary technology in clinical practice," Trovagene CEO Antonius Schuh said in a statement. "We believe that near real-time detection and monitoring of KRAS mutations in metastatic cancer patients have potential to improve patient outcomes and impact the standard of care for cancer monitoring."
- here's the release