Epigenomics AG Announces Research Collaboration with Stanford University
Press release, Berlin, Germany and Seattle, WA, USA
Epigenomics AG (Frankfurt, Prime Standard: ECX), a molecular diagnostics company developing tests based on DNA methylation, announced today that the company has entered into research collaboration with Stanford University in the field of colorectal cancer.
Under the terms of the agreement, Epigenomics and the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS), directed by Dr. Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, will determine potential complementary benefits in the use of DNA methylation markers developed for early detection of colorectal cancer and molecular imaging (FDG PET) in detecting colorectal cancer.
Positron emission tomography (PET) is a medical imaging technique which produces a three dimensional image of metabolic activities in the body. In oncology, more than 90% of all PET scans are performed as FDG-PET scans, using (18F) fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) as a tracer which is taken up by most cells, but retained by tissues with high metabolic activity such as cancer tissue. DNA methylation is a biological process that directly influences transcriptional activity of multiple genes. DNA methylation occurs in distinct patterns in mammalian cells and often differs between healthy and diseased tissues. Changes in these patterns can be identified as markers for disease such as cancer and for predicting response to drug treatment.
“FDG PET scans have a sensitivity of about 85% and a specificity of 71% in the initial diagnosis and staging of colorectal cancer patients, while our DNA methylation marker has a sensitivity between 50 and 65% and a specificity of 95% in the same indication,” said Dr. Cathy Lofton-Day of Epigenomics. “We therefore would like to find out whether the combination of both methods can increase sensitivity and specificity of colorectal cancer detection. The study may also help us to identify new potential scenarios for clinical uses of our technology.”
“We are very excited to push forward in attempting to merge the fields of in vitro and in vivo diagnostics. This work in colorectal cancer should lead to insights on how to take advantage of advances in both fields and should lead to more exciting opportunities downstream.” said Dr. Sam Gambhir at Stanford University.
The study will enroll up to 120 patients over a period of several months in a two-arm design involving up to 60 patients with confirmed colorectal cancer in one arm and up to 60 patients with other malignancies or normal FDG-PET scans in the second arm. The study is co-funded by Roche Diagnostics and Epigenomics; further financial details were not disclosed.
Methylation is a natural epigenetic process that occurs when a methyl group binds to one of DNA’s four bases, cytosine. The presence of methylation is responsible for controlling the activity of genes by turning them off, like a switch, when not needed. By measuring the differences in the methylation patterns between healthy and diseased tissue, a change in gene activity that could trigger diseases such as cancer is detected. Epigenomics has developed an industrial process that is able to read and interpret these methylation patterns.
About the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS)
The MIPS (http://mips.stanford.edu) is an inter-departmental effort to bring together scientists and physicans performing research in the area of molecular imaging. The ability to diagnose and manage diseases through the use of novel imaging probes and instrumentation is expected to continue to markedly impact biological research and patient care. PET imaging along with other technologies are under active investigation by the MIPS faculty.
Epigenomics is a molecular diagnostic company with a focus on the development of novel products for cancer. By detecting and interpreting DNA methylation patterns, Epigenomics’ tests can potentially diagnose disease at an early stage and help guide physicians to select an appropriate therapy. Epigenomics collaborates with Roche Diagnostics on the development of several diagnostic products in cancer. The company has its headquarters in Berlin, Germany, and a wholly owned subsidiary in Seattle, USA. For more information, please visit our website at www.epigenomics.com.
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This communication expressly or implicitly contains certain forward-looking statements concerning Epigenomics AG and its business. Such statements involve certain known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which could cause the actual results, financial condition, performance or achievements of Epigenomics AG to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Epigenomics AG is providing this communication as of this date and does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements contained herein as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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