Imperial, University of Leicester tap Natera for breast cancer study

Last year, Natera joined forces with the University of California, San Francisco to study the DNA markers of kidney transplant rejection.

Imperial College London and the University of Leicester will deploy Natera’s liquid biopsy technology to study the detection of breast cancer recurrence using circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA).

"We believe circulating tumor DNA may provide a meaningful guide to predict disease progression before scans for patients with breast cancer," said Jacqui Shaw, a professor of translational cancer genetics at the University of Leicester and one of the principal investigators of the study, in a statement.

The team will use Natera’s Signatera personalized ctDNA technology in a retrospective study to pinpoint the best biomarkers for the prediction of disease progression in women with breast cancer who have undergone surgery and adjuvant therapy.

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Study participants will be monitored using blood tests and physical examinations for up to four years, according to the statement.

The study will aim to determine the sensitivity, specificity, lead time and utility of ctDNA analysis for the early detection of breast cancer recurrence, Natera said. The partners expect to report results in 2018.

The Signatera test was made available for research use in August and will be rolled out to clinicians next year. What sets it apart from other liquid biopsy tests is personalization. Current technology tests a patient’s tumor for a generic panel of genes, the company says, while the Signatera test analyzes and tracks “tumor signatures,” or mutations that are specific to an individual’s tumor. This makes the test more specific and sensitive than others, Natera says.