Almac data to be presented at annual ASCO meeting

Almac’s Diagnostics business unit to present two main research projects

Two of Almac’s main research projects have been selected for presentation at the 2011 ASCO meeting. Both of these studies are based on Almac’s approach of profiling large clinical datasets and analysing the data for molecular subgroups that can aid in improved diagnosis of cancer by identifying molecular subtypes and by identifying molecular subgroups that are of clinical and therapeutic relevance.

The first study was carried out in ovarian cancer and will be the subject of a podium presentation by Dr Charlie Gourley of the University of Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre, where the patients were treated. The aim of the study was to identify molecular subtypes of ovarian cancer through profiling of a large clinical dataset of 363 patient samples.

Unsupervised analysis of the full dataset identified six molecular subgroups that were highly associated with histology. Subsequent further analysis of the serous cancers identified three subgroups with the dominant biology of one of these related to angiogenesis. This subgroup may be useful in identifying patients more ideally suited to treatment with antiangiogenic therapeutics.

This research will be presented at the Clinical Science Symposium entitled ‘Ovarian Cancer: Novel Approaches to Improve Treatment Outcomes’ on 4 June at 1.15pm in McCormick Place Room E354a.

The second study to be presented was carried out in breast cancer. In this study, a molecular subgroup was discovered that is DNA damage response deficient. This has resulted in the generation of a signature that is capable of identifying patients who do not respond to standard DNA damaging chemotherapy with a very high negative predictive value and relative risk.

It is proposed that this signature will be developed into a patient stratification tool for existing chemotherapy or a trial enrichment tool for DNA damaging or repair targeted drugs in development. This research will be presented at a poster discussion session on 4 June at 5pm in McCormick Place Room S100bc.

Both studies were carried out using Almac’s proprietary Cancer DSA discovery arrays. These tools have been optimised to obtain data from FFPE samples.

‘The ASCO meeting is always an important event in our calendar. We are very happy to have the opportunity to showcase some of our research at the meeting this year,’ said Professor Paul Harkin, president and managing director of Almac’s Diagnostics business unit. ‘Both of the studies being presented have significant clinical relevance and are likely to be of significant interest to both clinicians and the pharma companies represented.’

Dr Charlie Gourley of the University of Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre, who will present the ovarian cancer data, said: ‘As clinicians, we know from our day-to-day practice that ovarian cancer is a heterogeneous disease. This study shows that when patients are categorised according to the gene expression of their primary tumour that the six main subgroups that result have significantly different outcomes.

‘Intriguingly, the gene expression profiles of some of the subgroups suggest that they may be particularly amenable to treatment with novel targeted agents such as antiangiogenics. We are hopeful that this molecular classification will act as the template for the individualisation of ovarian cancer care based upon the biology of the patient’s tumour.’

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