Newswise — HOUSTON and REDWOOD CITY, Calif. ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Guardant Health today announced a multi-year partnership designed to accelerate comprehensive liquid biopsy technology into the standard of care in cancer treatment. The commercial, research and development agreement will make MD Anderson among the few hospitals in the world with integrated comprehensive liquid biopsy (CLB) capabilities.

While standard biopsies are considered an invasive procedure, liquid biopsies allow caregivers to determine cancer’s presence through a simple blood draw. Because tumors “shed” their DNA in the blood, samples may be able to detect specific tumor mutations that may direct therapy.

Under the partnership, Guardant Health will help MD Anderson build multiple on-site liquid biopsy centers enabling development of novel non-invasive assays using Guardant Health’s Digital Sequencing technology. First-of-their-kind interventional clinical utility studies, designed to demonstrate how CLB can improve patient outcomes across multiple types and stages of cancer, will be jointly funded.

“Liquid biopsies are far less invasive than traditional biopsies, a development that not only benefits our patients through a simplified diagnostic procedure but also by significantly enhanced analysis of samples taken,” said Stanley Hamilton, M.D., professor of Pathology and division head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at MD Anderson. “This unique partnership will greatly contribute to bringing liquid biopsies to the forefront of cancer care. We have already seen in the medical literature the impact this technology can have on patients, and we anticipate this agreement will drive broader access for our patients in the future.”

The two institutions also will work together on CLB clinical utility studies designed to support incorporation of CLB testing into national guidelines and adoption as a national standard of care.

“Increasingly, academic and industry collaborations are playing a vital role in advancing cancer research and, ultimately, cancer care,” said Ronald DePinho, M.D., president, MD Anderson. “This alliance also will contribute to ongoing efforts in our Moon Shots ProgramTM, with the aim of accelerating delivery of novel diagnostics and treatments to our patients. Further development of this exciting new technology clearly is a step in the right direction.”

MD Anderson’s Moon Shots ProgramTM is an ambitious effort to reduce cancer deaths by more rapidly developing and implementing advances in prevention, early detection and treatment based on scientific discoveries. Announced in 2012, the program now comprises 13 moon shots focused on a variety of the most challenging cancers backed by 10 platforms that provide deep expertise, cutting-edge technology and infrastructure to support innovative approaches.

“While we have seen unprecedented uptake of Guardant360 since its launch as the world’s first comprehensive liquid biopsy, we realize we are only scratching the surface of its potential impact on oncology,” said Helmy Eltoukhy, Guardant Health’s CEO and co-founder. “This partnership is an important milestone toward achieving our goal of conquering cancer with data. We knew we had to reduce the barrier to accessing somatic genomic information to drive exponential increases in cancer knowledge. Partnering with MD Anderson will accelerate the incorporation of our groundbreaking technology as a cornerstone of cancer management.”

As an initial step in this partnership, the company’s product will become the preferred liquid biopsy on campus and any MD Anderson physician will be able to order it directly from the electronic medical record system. Since 2014, the test has been used by more than 3,000 oncologists to assess the somatic genomic alterations in more than 30,000 advanced cancer patients.

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