Heterogeneity has a Critical Impact on Progression of Disease

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Heterogeneity has a Critical Impact on Progression of Disease

Pharma Tech Outlook | Thursday, March 28, 2019

HeterogeneityTumors consist of many individual cells that evolve and mutate as the disease progresses, so it is essential to understand exactly how different each cell is to detect disease progression and to determine the most effective, dynamic therapies. Currently, all the cancer care methods are limited to traditional next-generation bulk sequencing (NGS) technique that is based on sample averages and thus missing the underlying genetic diversity across all cells in a sample. As a result, clinicians lack the insight to carry out precision medicine properly.

At the 60th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting (ASH), in partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center, Mission Bio, the pioneer in single-cell DNA analysis and precision genomics, announced that the largest single-cell study to date would be presented. This research study has used the marquee technology of Mission Bio, the Tapestri Platform, which is the first and largest of its kind to fully characterize the sub-clone landscape of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) tumors and has major implications for cancer understanding and treatment.

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AML was the first application where Mission Bio focused on with one of their targeted sequencing panels. They enable solid tumor profiling for a wide variety of indications. AML is quite heterogeneous where the patients relapse after their initial therapy. Such relapse events are very often that is driven by the underlying genetic heterogeneity present early in the course of the disease. The Tapestri platform entirely relies on its proprietary droplet-based microfluidics. The primary objective of this mechanism is to take the size of a standard test tube and shrink it down to the width of a human hair; thus, giving them the ability to run millions of reactions in parallel. This is executed in a very rapid and cost-effective manner and providing an unprecedented high-resolution view of heterogeneity in tumor populations.

The main intention is not just to view the totality of variants that are present in tumors but to understand how they are co-located within the cells and clones. This finally enables the clinicians to treat the clones within a tumor as early as possible in the course of the disease. In fact, this could lead to enhanced patient care.

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The fact that many tumor populations are genetically diverse, heterogeneous, and it is something that is becoming increasingly recognized and appreciated across all cancer indications. That heterogeneity has a critical impact on the progression of the disease and potentially on the reaction of therapy, not only in AML but also for other cancers.

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