Celgene invests in Sequenta's MRD test

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | October 21, 2014
Sequenta, Inc. — a biotechnology company — announced yesterday that it has received funding from Celgene Corporation and several other investors for its ClonoSIGHT minimal residual disease (MRD) test. The funding will allow the test to be a part of clinical trials to investigate the development of medicines for blood cancers and also the development of clinical diagnostics based on Sequenta's LymphoSIGHT platform.

"Sequenta collaborates with top academic scientists to further expand the application of the LymphoSIGHT platform," Tom Willis, CEO of Sequenta, wrote to DOTmed News. "We are also working with pharmaceutical companies to improve and accelerate drug development by incorporating our novel immune repertoire profiling assay into clinical trials and biomarker discovery programs."

MRD occurs when a small amount of cancer cells remain in the patient's body during treatment or afterward when they are in remission. Those cancer cells can only be accurately identified with sensitive molecular technologies.

The test involves two processes. The first is an ID test in which the patient's cancer cell DNA sequences are identified in a diagnostic sample. The second process is the MRD test, which detects the disease. Follow-up samples are assessed to determine if the sequences that were previously identified are still present.

It takes about seven days to generate a report, which is sent to the referring physicians through an online portal. The report lists the patient's MRD status and level and also their MRD trends over time.

The test has been proven effective in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, multiple myeloma, mantle cell lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The company's LymphoSIGHT platform is a laboratory process that characterizes and itemizes the several million B and T cells in a blood or tissue sample. The company has commercialized the platform as the ClonoSIGHT process, to be use in MRD detection in lymphoid cancers.

They are also assessing whether the platform can be used to determine how effective therapies are for a variety of immune-mediated diseases based on immune system modulation.

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