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Biocartis Receives €750K Grant to Develop Automated Microsatellite Instability Test

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Biocartis Group said it has received a grant of approximately €750,000 ($796,246) from VLAIO, an organization for innovation and entrepreneurship in Flanders, Belgium. The grant supports Biocartis' microsatellite instability and mutational load research program, and the development of an automated MSI test on Biocartis' Idylla platform.

The test will be based on a set of novel MSI markers identified by VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology, and exclusively licensed to Biocartis from VIB in 2013. Biocartis is collaborating with VIB within the microsatellite instability and mutational load research program.

Microsatellite instability is the result of errors in the body's DNA mismatch repair system. Errors that normally occur during DNA replication are not corrected, and this may lead to tumor growth.

Current MSI testing methods are expensive and rely on manual, lengthy, and complex procedures involving PCR analysis followed by capillary electrophoresis using the Bethesda marker panel, Biocartis said. As a result, MSI testing is underutilized, it added.

Today, MSI testing is included in several guidelines for all colorectal cancers. Patients with a high MSI status show a better prognosis than other patients, and should consequently receive a different treatment, Biocartis said.

The MSI markers from VIB show 98.7 percent concordance with available MSI tests, can be investigated by using PCR analysis only, and can be automated on Biocartis' Idylla platform.

The Idylla MSI test under development will operate using a single slice of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue from human colorectal cancer tissue, the firm said. It eliminates the need for a second slice used for control, which is required by the Bethesda method, Biocartis said, adding that because of the grant, its MSI test may be available to a "much larger patient population."

Biocartis said that it aims to launch an Idylla MSI Test in 2018.