Personalized Cancer Therapy

In spite of exciting advances in our understanding of tumor biology that have resulted in a new generation of targeted therapies, multiple challenges continue to impede the identification and delivery of reliably effective cancer medicines. New drugs may provide little therapeutic benefit for some patients, with many approved therapies having lower than 50% response rates. Even with the considerable progress being made with genomic analysis and cancer biomarkers, the current state-of-the-art in cancer therapy, for the most part, requires running experiments in patients to see if the therapy will be effective. Some cancers may progress to an advanced stage while oncologists try to find an effective therapy. As a result many patients are exposed to toxic chemotherapy regimens that don’t halt their cancers. This situation is complicated even further by the routine use of combination therapy to treat many cancers. Clearly, more predictive tools are needed, particularly when a primary cancer treatment fails and the patient needs to undergo an alternative therapy.

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A personalized medicine approach can help address the challenge of predicting the therapeutic efficacy of cancer regimens. The best laboratory models currently being used are not reliably predictive because they don’t take into account the personalized nature of the patient’s disease. Most cancer tissue culture and mouse tumor models employ tumor cell lines that do not closely reflect the behavior of the patient’s tumor cells. Each cancer patient is unique because the make-up of each tumor environment is different; and it may evolve as the cancer progresses. Although a patient’s genetic and cancer biomarker profile can aid in optimizing therapy, molecular analysis fails to replicate the actual tumor environment which determines therapeutic efficacy. Thus, having a means of assessing potential efficacy of these therapies in a using the patient’s own tumor environment, prior to dosing the patient, would be a big step forward.

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SynVivo has developed a proprietary microfluidics chip-based technology that enables a more personalized approach to predicting drug efficacy in patients with cancer and other diseases. The SynVivo Cancer Chip, the first in a new line of chips that SynVivo is commercializing for personalized medicine applications, uses tumor biopsy cells to rapidly recapitulate the patient’s tumor microenvironment for testing drugs and drug combinations. This innovative technology allows drugs to be tested within days of receiving a biopsy, thus providing timely feedback to the patient and oncologist who are exploring therapeutic options.

Cancer Chips

SynVivo has developed a microfluidics-based cancer chip that uses the patient’s own tumor cells to create a screening device that closely reflects the micro environment of the patient’s tumor. SynVivo’s technology differentiator is the ability to design and fabricate a chip capable of supporting a microvascular network that includes the blood flow in and around the tumor, and the ‘leaky’ endothelium typically found inside the tumor vasculature. This is achieved by first establishing a confluent layer of vascular endothelial cells inside the chip. Next, cells from a patient’s tumor biopsy are introduced which form a 3D tumor mass. The chip can be used for drug testing within days of receiving a biopsy.

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Patient tumor cells cultured in the SynVivo Cancer Chip retain more of a true phenotype than can be achieved with conventional culture methods with respect to gene-expression profiles, cell-cell interactions, transport of circulating drugs and drug response. Only small amounts of reagents and patient’s cells are needed so multiple tests can be run using the same biopsy. SynVivo’s cancer chips are readily adaptable to real-time ‘on-chip’ or ‘off-chip’ analysis protocols that allow a wide range of analytical technologies, including optical imaging.

Multiple stakeholders across the healthcare spectrum can benefit from the SynVivo Cancer Chip technology:

  • Researchers (accelerated discoveries)
  • Patients (better outcomes)
  • Clinicians (better outcomes)
  • Payers (lower costs)

SynVivo Tumor Chip provides an important new predictive tool for assessing cancer therapies before the patient is actually dosed. Patients will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this personalized technology that enables more effective cancer therapy and eliminates regimens that do not work.