By using proprietary microfluidic technology we can run many drug tests directly on the tumor cells from patient biopsies or tumor resections.
Instead of using conventional test tubes or microtiter plates, which require more cells for drug screens than what can be obtained from a patient, we perform drug tests in microscopic droplets inside microfluidic systems. Our approach has manifold advantages over existing technology:
- Using our system the best therapy option for each patient can be determined within 24h at costs (market price of ~1500 US$ per patient screen) that are significantly lower than those for standard diagnostic procedures such as MRI scans.
- In contrast to companion diagnostic tests we cannot only test the response to individual drugs, but rather to hundreds of treatment options in a single screen. Furthermore, we are target agnostic, meaning we do not need any prior knowledge on biomarkers of a given tumor and we provide direct evidence for drug response, not just probabilities.
- In contrast to counting circulating tumor cells (CTCs) for personalized therapy purposes, we provide data on drug response even before the therapy starts and for hundreds of possible drug treatments simultaneously. This way patients do not have to undergo painful therapies that later on turn out to be inefficient.
But this is not all, we are further developing our technology to get 10.000-fold more data points per patient, to mimic the in vivo tumor response even better and to prepare for resistances even before they are observed in the patient
Beyond what we have already published in high impact journals and what we have been awarded for (see details here), we are actively developing our technology further:
- We are actively working on systems enabling us to use tumor tissue slices rather than cell suspensions in our assay droplets. This way, the correlation between the microfluidic test results and the patient response will become even more robust.
- We have established a proprietary system enabling us to get global gene expression data (transcriptomics, basically a blueprint of the current cell state) from patient cells for all tested drug treatments. This way we get comprehensive information on cancer cell signaling, optimal drug targets and potential resistances.
- After identifying optimal therapy options for each patient, we will test these on organoids (basically mini tumors derived from patients and grown in the laboratory). Using increasing concentrations of the best identified drugs we will be able to generate and analyze drug resistances even before they occur in the patient. Even better, we can use these organoids in a secondary microfluidic screen to derive treatment options against resistant cells, so that the patient is prepared for all possible therapy outcomes.