Therapy guidance for oncologists in the US is provided by the NCCN guidelines, which uses the results of population studies (clinical trials) to determine which therapies are on average the most effective for each patient. Unfortunately, this therapy guidance is not personalized to each individual patient. Despite decades of efforts to create cancer drug sensitivity tests for personalizing therapy guidance, there have been no sustainable clinical successes. Using its revolutionary new technology, Travera has created a rapid therapy guidance test that has the potential to personalize the majority of cancer drugs, across multiple mechanisms of action, for the majority of cancer patients, across blood cancers and solid tumors.
How Our Test Works
Our test is not based on genomics. Instead, we measure a biophysical property: the weight change of ex vivo cancer cells when exposed to a cancer drug. This weight change measurement is made possible by a new invention, the Suspended Microchannel Resonator (SMR), which weighs individual cancer cells with sub-picogram accuracy.
Our publications have shown that this weight change begins very quickly, within a few hours of exposing the cancer cells to cancer drugs, and that it applies to many different cancer drugs with different mechanisms of action across many different types of cancers.
To determine if the ex vivo growth rate responses of cancer cells to cancer drugs can predict actual patient responses, a collaborative study between MIT and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) was conducted to compare the ex vivio growth rate responses to the actual patient responses for nine patients with multiple myeloma who were given three myeloma-directed drugs. Travera’s measurements correctly matched the responses of all nine patients.
1 Cermak N, et al. High-throughput measurement of single-cell growth rates using serial microfluidic mass sensor arrays. Nat Biotechnol. 2016 October; 34(10): 1052–1059.
2 Burg TP, et al. Weighing of biomolecules, single cells and single nanoparticles in fluid. Nature. 2007 Apr 26;446(7139):1066-9.
3 Cetin AE, et al. Determining therapeutic susceptibility in multiple myeloma by single-cell mass accumulation. Nat Commun. 2017 Nov 20;8(1):1613.
Our Testing Process
Our clinical workflow consists of three steps.
Step 1: You collect live cancer cells from your patient and ship them to us using a prepaid Travera shipping kit (a standard Class B shipper).
Step 2: We receive the shipment, unpack the sample, purify the cancer cells, and run a panel of cancer drugs against the live cancer cells, measuring and comparing the weight response of cells in the presence and absence of each cancer drug.
Step 3: We calculate the statistical confidence of the sensitivity or resistance of the cells to each tested drug and send the report back to you.
We can test twenty different drugs or drug combinations with just 100,000 cancer cells, which can typically be acquired through a second-pull bone marrow biopsy (for multiple myeloma) or a fine-needle biopsy (for solid tumors). We are currently conducting studies of a variety of different solid tumor types to validate that fine needle aspirates can reliably deliver us the live cancer cells that we require.
The cancer drugs and drug combinations that we test will be selected based on consultation with you and based on genomic analysis. If the patient’s cancer genome has been sequenced, then we will select the most likely to work candidate drugs based this sequencing data. If the patient’s cancer genome has not been sequenced, then we will select the most likely to work candidate drugs based on a population of patients with the same cancer.
Does One of Your Multiple Myeloma Patients Want to Participate in Our Clinical Study?
Travera is studying the use of its test in patients with relapsed refractory multiple myeloma (RRMM). We are currently working with leading cancer experts at prominent academic institutions to enroll study participants. This study collects bone marrow aspirate samples from patients prior to the start of a new treatment regimen for the purposes of prospectively measuring single-cell weight response as a biomarker of patient response to that regimen.