A Uniform Analysis Platform for Detection of Multiple Types of Cancer

INVENTION: A diagnostic tool capable of detecting multiple cancer types early in development from a single sample of blood.

SIGNIFICANCE: The ability to detect and diagnose cancer early in its development is critical to the successful outcome of treatment. While new therapies steadily improve outcome of the disease, early detection remains the front line of defense in reducing cancer mortality; the earlier the diagnosis, the better the outcome. Northwestern University researchers have identified unique DNA signatures that correlate with development of specific types of cancer. These signatures can be determined using DNA from a small sample of blood. The growing list of signatures identified thus far includes breast, colon, prostate, lung, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer, while others are currently being evaluated. Not only does this assay improve detection of cancers such as breast and colon, it provides a new tool for difficult to diagnose cancers such as ovarian and pancreatic. This technology can be easily incorporated into a routine physical exam as a part of a common screen using a patient’s blood. The ease of sample collection and its laboratory analysis will reduce the apprehension, anxiety, and inconvenience often associated with instrumental tests such as a mammography or colonoscopy. Besides screening of asymptomatic individuals for early detection of different types of cancer the assay will be useful to monitor treatment and detect potential recurrence as early as possible.


Minimally invasive Detection from blood Early Detection Successful with hard to detect cancers such as pancreatic and ovarian Only one patient profile needed to assess multiple cancers Increased patient compliance with screening guidelines Highly sensitive Can monitor, evaluate, and guide treatment.

BACKGROUND: Methylation of DNA, which occurs by the addition of a methyl group to cytosine by DNA methyltransferases, modifies gene expression by inhibiting gene transcription. While DNA methylation is a normal regulatory process, various diseases are associated with the changes in the methylation status of certain genes. Abnormal DNA methylation is found in most human cancers and is known to contribute to cancer development. Northwestern University researchers have examined the methylation status of a population of genes, generating a methylation profile that identifies a specific type of cancer in a statistically significant manner. Additionally, this profile can be monitored to design a more specific treatment regimen and to optimize it for individual cancer patients.

STATUS: Several patent applications have been filed and Northwestern is interested in further developing and licensing this technology. Additional non-confidential information is available upon request.

Inventor(s): Victor Levenson, Ronald Gartenhaus, Anatoliy Melnikov

Type of Offer: Licensing

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