Biomarkers and the Discovery Funnel
Molecular signatures obtained from the blood RNA assessed by microarrays represent hundreds to thousands of genes. GeneNews has made a significant contribution to genomics technology: the Discovery Funnel. Using rigorous statistical analysis, GeneNews is able to generate from the complex microarray data a small set of clinically useful biomarkers, which we are using to develop our first product: ColonSentry. Many other Sentry products are in our pipeline.
These disease-specific biomarkers can be used to address a diverse number of clinically important and commercially relevant questions, as represented in the figure below:
The end result of the Discovery Funnel is that a broad molecular signature of disease is narrowed from thousands or hundreds of genes to a small panel of about half a dozen genes. High density arrays are excellent discovery tools. For laboratory medicine work however, sets of useful genes must be used at a clinically appropriate density, for a variety of reasons ranging from practical to technical to economic. GeneNews’ Sentry products are small panels designed to run on a platform ubiquitous in the clinical molecular diagnostics laboratory: real time (or kinetic) polymerase chain reaction.
GeneNews’ Sentinel Principle applies advanced functional genomic microarray technology to identify molecular signatures that are applied to our proprietary Discovery Funnel. At the “bottom” of the funnel, practical biomarker sets are identified that may be used in the clinical laboratory. Using this approach GeneNews has shown that readily obtained blood samples may be used to test for biomarkers that diagnose the presence of disease in the body, for example, solid tumors. The Sentinel Principle enables blood based-molecular diagnostics for occult disease detection and represents an important advance to complement solid tissue-based diagnostic methods and for the detection of diseases for which there are not appropriate laboratory tests.
- Cancer diagnosis often requires an invasive biopsy to diagnose or stage disease. Biopsies can be painful and difficult and are invasive. Blood sampling represents an attractive alternative.
- Cancer diagnostics, such as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy for colon cancer screening can be unpleasant and as a result many people avoid them, delaying diagnosis and treatment; delays which cost lives. Blood samples can be obtained quickly and easily as part of the routine check up or at anytime and are highly likely to improve compliance.