Hitachi Chemical Co. and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have established a four-year strategic alliance focused on circulating tumor cells in the blood, the early detection of metastatic cancer, selection of anti-cancer drugs, and enhanced blood sampling.
The collaboration, funded by Hitachi, will help develop and evaluate the company’s Micro Cavity Array (MCA) Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) system, developed for the isolation of CTC, which can be subjected to downstream molecular examinations. CTCs offer an alternative to invasive tumor-assessment procedures and have shown to be valuable prognostic biomarkers in metastatic breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer.
Initial clinical trials will focus on breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The studies will be led by a collaborative team involving three MD Anderson departments from three different divisions. The leading researchers are James Reuben, PhD, professor of hematopathology; Naoto Ueno, MD, PhD, professor of breast medical oncology; and Steven Lin, MD, PhD, associate professor of radiation oncology.
“This alliance offers the potential for evaluating gene signatures in CTCs and identifying biomarkers for therapy response using a non-invasive platform as a viable alternative to existing invasive biopsies,” Reuben said in a press release. “It is our hope that this type of collaboration will greatly enhance cancer therapy by enabling precision medicine for our patients. Enhancing effective treatment in lung and breast cancer patients requires proper risk stratification for therapies that will selectively identify patients most likely to benefit from targeted therapies.”
Hitachi will provide the platform for the capture of CTC from peripheral blood samples. MD Anderson will offer expertise to develop the MCA system and to conduct downstream studies for molecular characterization of the CTC, including cancer-related gene expression profiles.
Hitachi has developed a filter that captures CTC from blood through the application of a micro-fabrication technology, which, combined with automated blood processing equipment, results in high-reproducibility with a “capture rate” of more than 90 percent of cancer cells spiked into health donor blood.
This Hitachi/MD Anderson translational, collaborative study is the result of a program that started in 2014, to capitalize on the cancer center’s advanced research of CTCs. MD Anderson investigators were able to confirm the isolation of CTCs using Hitachi’s proprietary technologies and identified cancer-related genes and biomarker candidates that have evolved into large clinical trials, involving up to 400 patients.
“I believe this alliance offers us a great opportunity to enter the cancer diagnostics market,” said Masato Yoshida, executive officer of Hitachi Chemical. “The combination of MD Anderson’s expertise in cancer treatment and our micro-fabrication technology evolved from semi-conductor business provides Hitachi Chemical with an advantage in liquid biopsy.
“With this unique advantage we hope to enter the market by 2021 through demonstrating clinical applications, such as disease monitoring, prognosis and drug efficacy, using CTC-derived biomarkers,” Yoshida added.