Exosome Diagnostics

A revolutionary new way to monitor brain tumor growth

Overview: We are partnering with two leading academic research centers – Mass General Hospital (MGH) and University of California, San Diego (UCSD) – and Exosome Diagnostics, an emerging biotech firm, to develop a diagnostic platform to detect genetic brain tumor mutations in cerebral spinal fluid and blood.  

Challenge: One of the most significant challenges neuro-oncologists face is being able to accurately pinpoint the time of recurrence to intervene as early as possible.  When treating other cancers, surgeons are able to serially biopsy tumor sites to monitor the state of the disease.  However, with brain cancer, biopsies are invasive procedures.  While MRIs are useful tools, tumors only show up on imaging scans once they are at least one millimeter in diameter and comprised of about 100,000 tumor cells. Once that many cancerous cells have populated the brain the opportunity for an early intervention, especially at recurrence, is lost.  

Opportunity: Brain tumor cells shed micro-vesicles, called exosomes, which enter bio-fluids such as cerebral spinal fluid and blood and then circulate throughout the body.  Contained within these exosomes is genetic information, which can be analyzed to provide an indication of the primary cancer’s progression and molecular composition.  

Pilot Study: The objective of the pilot study is to design a diagnostic test to separate exosomes from bio-fluids and then extract the relevant genomic information.  As a first step, our team will analyze exosomes to determine a patient’s EGFR status, a common brain tumor mutation, and correlate that result with the patient’s tumor tissue.  Once a baseline level of EGFR mutations are established, clinicians will periodically draw additional bio-fluids to monitor EGFR levels over time to serve as an indicator of whether a patient is responding therapy.   When it comes to treating brain tumors, it’s time to stop guessing, and start treating strategically.

Our Team: This project brings together a non-profit, leading academic research centers, and a biotech company.  We believe this collaborative approach will provide the best chance to substantively change the way brain cancer is diagnosed and treated in the shortest period of time possible.  Our team includes:  Bob Carter, University of California - San Diego; Fred Hochberg, Mass General Hospital; and Exosome Diagnostics, New York

 

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