Oncologica new research on detection of brain cancer biomarkers by genomic sequencing to improve survival rates

Glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer is commonly treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. However, a newly published study from the research team at Oncologica the world-leading genetic cancer testing laboratory based in Cambridge UK, explains how their genetic sequencing research into predictive glioblastoma biomarkers can empower patients and doctors with DNA blueprints to make better targeted therapy decisions. This could lead to improved treatment outcomes beyond the current survival rate of 7% within five years of diagnosis.

The latest anti-cancer targeted therapies and immunotherapies are directed at the genetic DNA mutations that underlie the development and progression of brain cancer. The latest targeted cancer medicines offer great advantages over standard therapeutic approaches as they directly attack the cancer cells but leave normal cells relatively undisturbed. These new genomic targeted drugs have greater specificity and reduce toxic effects for patients compared to conventional chemotherapy.

The fast implementation of these targeted therapies into routine clinical practice has been constrained by a lack of comprehensive genetic screening for these DNA mutations at diagnosis. Furthermore, the processing of tissue biopsies using formaldehyde and wax embedding for diagnosis, results in fragmentation of the DNA test which makes analysis for mutations a challenge.

In Oncologica’s newly published study Oncologica shows how semiconductor biomarker sequencing can be used to accurately screen the fragmented DNA and RNA from routine glioblastoma biopsy/resection samples. This enables comprehensive DNA profiling to be undertaken in the routine initial diagnostic workflow to link detected mutations to a broad range of potential genomic targeted therapies and immunotherapies, rather than wait to see if standard treatments fail to control the disease.

“We are continually researching new ways to improve the genetic test options at initial diagnosis to provide valuable personalised data to aid targeted cancer treatments” said Dr Marco Loddo, Co-Founder and Scientific Director of Oncologica.

Key findings of the paper are;

  • Oncologica’s Next generation sequencing platform captures 764 of the leading anti-cancer targeted medicine drug combinations and immunotherapies via analysis of actionable genomic mutations across 505 genes. Analysis was performed across 55 glioblastoma patients.

  • 166 actionable mutations were detected across 36 genes linked to 17 off label targeted therapy protocols and 111 clinical trials

  • Most patients had 3 or more actionable mutations affecting key cancer regulatory networks including mitogenic signalling pathways, DNA-damage repair pathways and cell cycle checkpoints. Linkage with immunotherapy and PARP inhibitors was identified in 44% of glioblastoma patients because of alterations in DNA-damage repair genes.

  • The study shows that semiconductor sequencing for actionable mutations can be used to identify a broad therapeutic armamentarium of targeted therapies and immunotherapies that can be potentially employed for the improved clinical management of glioblastoma patients.

“We hope our data will help inform oncologists about the broad range of potential therapies that are now available and that this will translate into improved clinical outcomes for glioblastoma patients in the future said Professor Gareth Williams, Co-Founder and Medical Director at Oncologica.

Read the published paper on PLOS ONE:

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