ApoCell awarded $2.9 million from SAIC-Frederick Inc. to deliver a new platform for detection and molecular analysis of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) to the National Cancer Institute’s Pharmacodynamics Program
HOUSTON (Aug. 10, 2011) —ApoCell, Inc. announced the award of a $2.9 million contract from SAIC-Frederick Inc. (SAIC-F), in support of the National Cancer Institute, for the development and delivery of 12 alpha prototype units of the ApoCell DEP-FFF circulating tumor cell (CTC) detection system, called ApoStream™. The project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), is for the delivery of technology for CTC capture and analysis to determine the effects of targeted cancer therapies.
This is the first commercial order for this revolutionary new cancer diagnostic device and ApoCell expects to deliver the alpha prototype units to SAIC-F for NCI use by early 2013.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have long been known to exist in cancer patients’ blood. Correlation has been established between the number of CTCs and disease progression. The promise of clinical application of CTCs has not been achieved because these cells are very rare and difficult to detect and analyze using current molecular biology techniques. Current technology depends on the presence of the EpCAM antigen on the surface of the CTCs.
ApoStream™ employs a process called dielectrophoresis field flow fractionation (DEPFFF), which uses a low level electrical field of varying frequencies to enable the separation of cancer cells in blood. This process has been shown to detect and select significant quantities of circulating cancer cells from small quantities of blood, including rare cell types that have previously gone undetected. Further, ApoStream™ captures the cells alive and viable for additional analytical testing.
This new technology, which was invented by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Laboratory of Diagnostic Microsystems and licensed exclusively to ApoCell, has promising implications in the advancement of cancer research and treatment. It is expected to allow for greater selection and specificity in several different areas, including presymptomatic diagnosis, disease stratification and treatment selection as a function of the stage of progression along with the type of cancer. It will also be beneficial in monitoring cancer therapy and assessing treatment effectiveness. Once approved, this new diagnostic system is expected to be especially useful in detecting hard-to-treat cancers at an early stage, when treatment might be more effective.
ApoStream™ will play a transformational role in the development of targeted therapies for the prevention and treatment of cancer.
ApoCell is a pioneer in biomarker analysis and is one of the first commercial laboratories to investigate the effects of drugs in development using CTCs obtained from the blood. ApoCell President and CEO Darren Davis, Ph.D., said, “The award of this contract and its implications in the future of cancer drug development is a great achievement for our dedicated group of scientists and product developers. We are very excited and committed to exceeding NCI/SAIC expectations. This contract allows us to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of the first commercial research use instruments with our ApoCell DEP-FFF technology and our development of clinical FDA-approved diagnostic devices to enable oncologists to implement personalized medicine.”
While the ApoStream™ device promises advancements in cancer detection, there is no guarantee that the device or its technology will increase cancer survival rates or improve a patient’s quality of life.
Based in Houston, Texas, ApoCell (www.apocell.com) is a privately-held specialty clinical research company. Founded in 2004, the firm is a leader in molecular biomarker detection and analysis and leverages its expertise in the areas of oncology, diabetes, molecular diagnostics and drug development to measure biomarker signatures in clinical trial subjects. The company’s proprietary methods provide early proof of mechanism of action and monitor the effectiveness of various types of drugs by measuring biomarker expression patterns in biopsies, blood and rare cell types. The company’s facilities are CLIA-certified and compliant with applicable FDA regulations. Since inception, the company has participated in over 120 Phase I, II, and III clinical cancer drug trials for more than 80 sponsor clients worldwide.
About SAIC-Frederick Inc.
SAIC-Frederick, a wholly owned subsidiary of SAIC, is the operations and technical support contractor for the National Cancer Institute at Frederick — a U.S. national laboratory — focused on speeding up the delivery of new technologies and treatments to patients with cancer and AIDS. SAIC-Frederick’s staff conducts basic research and maintains a full suite of advanced technologies in areas such as nanotechnology, genomics and imaging. The company operates the federal government’s drug and vaccine manufacturing facilities; operates the high-performance Advanced Biomedical Computing Center; manages a nationwide program to improve research and care for the underserved in their home communities; and supports more than 300 clinical trials for patients in the United States and around the world.