The future of precision oncology is happening now, in the labs of Seattle-based start-up SEngine, where individual patient tumor cells are screened against a library of nearly 150 drugs to find the optimal personalized treatment.
As CEO Carla Grandori, M.D., Ph.D., tells Theral Timpson in this episode of Mendelspod, the CLIA-certified PARIS test would not be possible without recent advances in technology that allow for true precision and miniaturization.
Grandori credits “the perfection of robotics,” and mentions Labcyte technology in particular.
“The latest example is a sound-driven instrument called the Echo from Labcyte, which is able to really eject microdops highly accurately onto cells,” Grandori says. “We didn’t have instruments like this... widely used and widely available in settings other than industry before, and they were really used mostly to do biochemical assays, not for cells.”
The technology may also provide opportunities to improve the process even further.
Grandori says it can be challenging to collect adequate sample sizes in solid tumors. Her test currently requires 2 million cells, an amount that about fits on the cap of a pen. It may seem small, but it’s still a lot, especially when considering cancer cells are usually the minority of cells collected in a biopsy, and that the samples often include extraneous stromal tissue, she adds.
“We’re looking to make the assay even smaller and miniaturized, where we would need less,” Grandori says.