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Archive - Feb 4, 2018


Liquid Biopsy & Cancer Commons Presentations Highlight Afternoon of Day 2 of Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2018

In the afternoon sessions of Day 2 of the Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2018, the Track 2 Liquid Biopsy Showcase continued with a series of talks. The first was given by George Karlin-Neumann, PhD, Director of Scientific Affairs, Digital Biology Center, Bio-Rad Laborartories. At Bio-Rad, Dr. Karlin-Neumann is helping to drive the research and clinical adoption of droplet digital PCR through collaborations and internal research programs, especially in cancer liquid biopsy. He noted that the benefits of droplet digital PCR include absolute quantitation, high precision and sensitivity, high throughput, and removal of PCR efficiency bias. A second talk was delivered by Andre Marziali, PhD, President & CEO, Boreal Genomics; and Professor, University of British Columbia. Dr. Marziali and the R&D team at Boreal hold 19 issued patents on methods for high-accuracy next-generation sequencing library preparation technologies to reduce the cost of liquid biopsy assays. Dr. Marziali highlighted Boreal’s OnTarget Circulating Tumor DNA (ctDNA) Analysis technology. The customer can select pre-configured or custom panels of up to 100 mutations; submit plasma, FFPE and fresh-frozen tissue, or DNA samples; and receive a report with mutations quantified at ≥0.01% abundance. The OnTarget™ services are for research-use only, not for diagnostic use. The next presentation was delivered by Atul Sharan, President & CEO of CellMax Life. Sharan is a trained engineer who was previously President & CEO at AutoESL, and Founder, President, & CEO at Clear Shape Technologies. Sharan founded CellMax Life after his wife had been cleared of breast cancer in a mammogram and then, just weeks later, was diagnosed with breast cancer via additional testing.

Clinical Diagnostics and Artificial Intelligence Tracks Offer Key Insights in Morning Session of Day 2 of Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2018

The Track 5 (Clinical Diagnostics Showcase) session of Day 2 of the Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2018 began with a talk by Bernhard Zimmerman, PhD, Vice President R&D, at Natera. Dr. Zimmerman was the lead scientist in Natera’s development of the massively multiplex PCR and market-leading Panorama non-invasive prenatal test. More recently, his team has developed multiple workflows for analysis of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) using fixed and personalized panels. In particular, Dr. Zimmerman described Natera’s Signatera ctDNA technology, which is is truly personalized in that it focuses on 16 or more mutations known to be present in a patient’s tumor sample (“tumor signatures”). This unique approach enables high sensitivity and specificity for ctDNA detection and monitoring, Dr. Zimmerman noted. He also cited a Nature study, published on May 25, 2017, in which Natera technology was used to enable a tumor-specific phylogenetic approach to profile the ctDNA of the first 100 TRACERx (Tracking Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Evolution Through Therapy (Rx)) study participants ( The next speaker was John Heimer, President & CEO, Olink Proteomics. Olink’s goal is to facilitate and implement precision medicine via discovery and development of validated protein targets to identify smaller protein signatures for, e.g., stratification and prediction, and to advance them in clinical decision-making. Olink’s precision proteomics panels are able to achieve a high level of multiplexing while maintaining exceptional data quality thanks to its proprietary Proximity Extension Assay (PEA) technology. Each biomarker is addressed by a matched pair of antibodies, coupled to unique, partially complementary oligonucleotides, and measured by quantitative real-time PCR.