June 17, 2020

Liquid Biopsy ASPIRE Awards Announced

NEW YORK – The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research (MFCR) has awarded two grants focused on the clinical implementation and validation of liquid biopsy technologies: one to Dan Landau of Weill Cornell School of Medicine and one to Michael Berger of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The ASPIRE awards emerged from a MFCR-sponsored workshop held at the Banbury Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in September 2019 that brought together two dozen liquid biopsy scientists from 17 different institutions across seven countries.

Dr. Landau’s project, A Liquid Biopsy Test for the Early Detection of High-Risk Colorectal Adenomas, seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of MRDetect, an ultra-sensitive technique for ctDNA detection in blood, for noninvasive colorectal cancer screening. Members of the Landau laboratory will collaborate with scientists in the laboratory of Claus Andersen at Denmark’s Aarhus University.

Dr. Berger’s project, Blood-Based Cancer Screening for Lynch Syndrome Patients, seeks to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of a liquid biopsy approach called MSIsensor to determine its feasibility as a screening tool for people with Lynch Syndrome (LS). Individuals with LS have an 80 percent lifetime risk of developing cancer in their lifetime and thus require frequent testing, which makes the need for noninvasive methods acute for this population.

“I believe these projects will transform how cancer is diagnosed,” said Michele Cleary, PhD, CEO of MFCR. “Everyone knows colonoscopies are uncomfortable, but they are also expensive, complex, and have low participation rates. Finding a blood-based test for this deadly cancer that is on the rise among young adults is an urgent priority. And relief from frequent invasive screening is also needed for people with Lynch Syndrome, one of the most common hereditary cancer syndromes.”

More about these projects and others funded by MFCR can be found at www.themarkfoundation.org/portfolio.

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