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Alithea Genomics and partners to develop a first-of-a-kind pan-cancer blood test

MAINLINE, a Dutch-Swiss consortium between PamGene International B.V., Alithea Genomics SA and Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), has been awarded a Eurostars grant of €1 million to develop a first pan-cancer blood-test for the prediction of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) efficacy and toxicity.

Based in Lausanne, Alithea Genomics specialises in RNA sequencing and transcriptomics analysis. The company’s proprietary technology – Bulk RNA Barcoding and sequencing (BRB-seq) –enables the preparation of hundreds of RNA samples for sequencing in a single tube. RNA sequencing examines the quantity and sequences of RNA in a biological sample using next-generation sequencing (NGS). This data specifies which genes encoded in DNA are turned on or off, and to what extent, for instance, in a diseased cell or response to a drug. Since launching the BRB-seq kits in the market, Alithea has sold over 500 kits in Switzerland, Europe, UK and the US.

The technology will play a key role in the newly announced Eurostar’s funded project led by the MAINLINE consortium. Alithea joined PamGene International and Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) to combine their expertise in clinical research, transcriptomics and kinomic profiling to take a radically new approach to identify a multi-omics biomarker profile that surpasses current single-biomarker approaches.

PamGene has previously developed two CE-IVD tests for ICI therapy guidance, the IOpener® tests to guide ICI treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC and melanoma and plans to extend these studies to develop a pan-cancer predictive kinome profile for ICI therapy in the MAINLINE consortium.

Together with Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), Alithea Genomics will develop a transcriptomics biomarker panel using their proprietary time and cost-efficient BRB-seq platform. Lausanne University Hospital will provide access to whole-blood samples from ICI-eligible cancer patients to generate an extensive dataset for training and validating the prediction model. The individual kinome and transcriptomic profiles will be integrated along with clinical data to develop a novel multi-omics model, whose predictive power will be clinically validated in this project.

“The approval by the Swiss and Dutch funding agencies of our Eurostars project reflects the world-leading science and technologies we will use in our consortium to develop the first pan-cancer therapy agnostic ICI response prediction test” says Riccardo Dainese, CEO at Alithea Genomics.

Krisztian Homicsko, Lausanne University Hospital, Department of oncology, head of the Molecular Tumor Board, explains the expected clinical benefits of the consortium’s pursuit. “Our common objective is to deliver the MAINLINE IOpener-Dx 2.0, an IVD blood-test for predicting ICI efficacy and toxicity, based on a unique panel of biomarkers that are applicable for a broad range of cancers. The MAINLINE IVD will guide clinicians in patient selection to support the effective use of ICIs, thereby encouraging use of ICIs in earlier stages of cancer”.

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