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Asuragen Awarded $6.8 Million Commercialization Award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas

Texas Business reports:  AUSTIN—Asuragen Inc .received notice of a $6.8 million commercialization award to pursue Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) applications from the state of Texas through the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

CPRIT was established to expedite innovation and commercialization in the area of cancer research and to enhance access to evidence-based prevention programs and services throughout the state. Acceptance of the award is subject to the completion of due diligence and contract negotiations.

“NGS has generated excitement in life sciences and healthcare by facilitating the rapid and cost effective determination of large volumes of sequence information, said Asuragen chief executive Matt Winkler in a prepared statement. “Our development work at Asuragen has demonstrated that it is possible to analyze and interpret cancer profiles from minimal tumor biopsies at a depth and sensitivity that may address gaps in clinical cancer research and, ultimately, cancer patient management. The CPRIT grant provides significant support to further develop and ultimately commercialize NGS-based tests in our CLIA laboratory.”

Most of the progress in NGS to date has focused on improvements in the underlying sequencing instrumentation and reagents with limited application of these technologies to clinically relevant sample types and integration within diagnostic workflows.

More recently, however, NGS has demonstrated value in supporting clinical research and drug development, with the promise of improving cancer patient management. Asuragen’s NGS programs have targeted high value and clinically actionable mutation profiling, the discovery of cancer-linked genomic variants, and confirmatory testing with orthogonal NGS platforms.

Proceeds from the CPRIT award will help enable Asuragen to expand its SuraSeq NGS product line, uncover both known and novel clinically relevant variants, and develop reliable confirmatory methods with associated clinical utility.

As part of the grant, Asuragen is collaborating with Heidi Erickson; Ignacio Wistuba; Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou;  J. Jack Lee; and Gordon Mills at MD Anderson Cancer Center to apply Asuragen’s targeted NGS strategy to patient tumors in the context of pathway-based systems biology analyses, and match these data to targeted therapies and subsequent outcomes.

Asuragen will test specimens from the BATTLE-2 Program, which is an innovative biomarker-integrated targeted therapy study and one of the first biopsy-driven prospective personalized medicine clinical trials. The BATTLE-2 Program will provide the opportunity to test the integration of routine pathology processing of NSCLC FNA specimens with the proposed NGS analysis in a clinically actionable trial environment that pairs cancer drugs to individualized patient biomarker profiles.

“While the early application of NGS has focused on a variety of model organisms and basic research projects, it is widely anticipated that as the technologies become more robust and the time and cost for sequencing are reduced, NGS will enable the ultimate realization of personalized medicine,” said Gordon Mills, co-director of the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy at the University of Texas MD Anderson. “Our collaboration with Asuragen in the BATTLE-2 Program will provide the opportunity to test the integration of routine pathology processing of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) FNA specimens with the proposed NGS analysis in a biomarker-driven trial. The NGS products Asuragen is developing have the potential to reduce overall healthcare costs and enhance the care of cancer patients.”

Asuragen is a molecular diagnostic company and pharmaceutical services provider.