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Nucleix, MD Anderson Partner on Methylation-Based Lung Cancer Dx Tests

NEW YORK – Israeli molecular diagnostics firm Nucleix said on Thursday that it has signed a research and license agreement with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to evaluate and develop methylation assays focusing on lung cancer.

As part of the collaboration, the team will initially evaluate methylation markers that it believes are important for characterizing lung cancer subtypes.

The researchers will examine selected markers using Rehovot, Israel-based Nucleix's EpiCheck liquid biopsy platform, which analyzes changes in methylation patterns for lung cancer detection. After extracting circulating tumor DNA from a sample, EpiCheck digests it using methylation-sensitive enzymes, followed by processing on either a real-time PCR or next-generation sequencing instrument. The platform then generates a numerical score that indicates the patient's cancer status.

Nucleix aims to spearhead the development of new assays that include markers demonstrating efficacy for lung cancer subtype characterization. MD Anderson will validate the assays using in vitro and in vivo cell lines, preclinical models, and clinical samples.

"Blood-based methylation assays are minimally invasive and have the potential to provide key information about a patient’s lung cancer that cannot be provided by standard genomic profiling of DNA mutations, helping physicians to better identify disease subtypes and emerging biomarkers in the clinic," John Heymach, chair of thoracic and head and neck medical oncology at MD Anderson, said in a statement. "We look forward to collaborating with Nucleix to advance methylation measurement tools with the goal of enabling physicians to provide more personalized, biomarker-driven treatment approaches for our patients."

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Our Lung EpiCheck test is highly sensitive and has the potential to assist in the early detection of lung cancer for high-risk individuals, but we know there is also a significant need for patients who have already been diagnosed and are undergoing treatment," added Chris Hibberd, CEO of Nucleix. "By collaborating with MD Anderson, we aim to expand the methylation tools available for the assessment and care of this patient population."