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European Consortium Nets €1M for Test to Predict Bladder Cancer Immunotherapy Response

NEW YORK – A European research consortium that includes PamGene, Novigenix, and Radboud University Medical Center said on Thursday they received a grant from Eurostars for up to €1 million ($1.1 million) to develop a diagnostic that predicts which bladder cancer patients are likely to respond to immunotherapy.

The three entities have formed a Dutch-Swiss consortium called PRECISE. The group hopes to develop an in vitro liquid biopsy diagnostic that combines two multiomics approaches, mRNA and kinase activity profiling. The test will be codeveloped by Dutch diagnostics company PamGene and Swiss precision medicine company Novigenix. Researchers at the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands will evaluate the test in a prospective clinical study.

PamGene has previously developed two tests that predict immunotherapy response using its expertise in kinase activity profiling: one for melanoma and another for non-small cell lung cancer.

Studies have shown that around 20 percent of cancer patients have an enduring benefit from immunotherapy. "The objective of this collaboration is to fulfill a significant medical unmet need," Niven Mehra, an oncologist at Radboud University Medical Center, said in a statement. "Time is a critical factor in bladder cancer treatment because of the cancer's aggressive nature."

Earlier proof-of-concept studies by the consortium suggested that combining data on host-immune response characteristics using mRNA transcriptomics and protein kinase activity profiling could accurately predict whether metastatic bladder cancer patients were likely to respond to immunotherapy.

In December, the PRECISE consortium received a separate €1 million grant from Eurostars to similarly use mRNA and kinase activity profiling to identify multiomic signatures that can predict which metastatic urothelial cancer patients respond to checkpoint inhibitors.