Parsortix, a system developed by Angle to harvest circulating tumor cells from a cancer patient’s blood, is being used as part of the GANNET 53 clincial project that is testing the efficacy of Ganetespib‘s in the treatment of advanced ovarian cancers.
If the project is successful, Parsortix could be used as a companion diagnostic to identify patients who respond to Ganetespib treatment.
The GANNET 53 project, funded by the European Union, is evaluating in clinical trials the safety and efficacy of Ganetespib in combination with standard chemotherapy (Paclitaxel) in metastatic ovarian cancer patients. It began in 2013 and is expected to finish by March 2019.
Ganetespib, developed by Synta Pharmaceuticals, is an investigational drug that inhibits heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), a molecular chaperone essential for the proper maturation and activation of a number of proteins, many of which are important in cell growth, differentiation, and survival. Cancer cells need higher levels of HSP90, and therefore are more sensitive to HSP90 inhibitors.
“For the first time, using the Parsortix system, we can now reliably access ovarian cancer cells from patient blood samples for analysis,” Professor Robert Zeillinger, head of the molecular oncology group at the Medical University of Vienna, said in a news release.
“This opens up completely new approaches to drug development in ovarian cancer and has the potential for wide applicability in other ovarian cancer drug trials,” Zeillinger added.
The Parsortix system is a disposable cassette that captures and harvests circulating tumor cells in the blood. Because circulating tumor cells are larger and less likely than red and white blood cells to deform when the sample is passed through the cassette, they are caught on the steps that crisscross the cassette. They can then either be stained and directly visualized on the cassette or harvested for genetic analysis.
The system, which was granted a European patent in March, is available for research purposes in the U.S., but is not yet approved by the FDA for clinical use.
According to the company, Parsortix is more sensitive and specific than other circulating tumor cell analysis systems, which lack suitable surface markers for ovarian cancers.
To date, 424 blood samples from 136 platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patients have been collected and processed using Parsortix. Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna are currently analyzing the samples for the presence of tumor markers.