GATC Biotech to Focus Research on Detection of Cancer in Women
18 Feb 2013

After successfully launching the PraenaTest of its subsidiary LifeCodexx, Europe’s leading service provider of DNA-sequencing, GATC Biotech has started research on early detection of breast and ovarian cancer with the goal of developing a test to identify tumor markers present in blood and link these markers to the presence of cancer.

As a partner of the research project EpiFemCare, GATC Biotech will manage sample processing, i.e. the DNA isolation from serum and the reduced representation bisulfite sequencing from serum derived DNA. This method analyses DNA methylation in normal and tumor DNA. 6 institutions from 5 European countries combining the best clinical, scientific and industrial expertise have joined forces to add a new dimension to the treatment of cancer in women. The €5.8 million project from the European Commission will develop and test new methods for screening, diagnosing and personalizing treatment of breast and ovarian cancer.

“We are proud of being a partner within the development of a DNA-based blood test that promotes new ways of diagnosing and treating patients with breast or ovarian cancer. The processing of samples in our ISO 17025 certified Genome & Diagnostic Center is one of our key competences”, comments Peter Pohl, CEO of GATC Biotech AG.

Project Coordinator, Professor Widschwendter, said: “This research project brings together a powerful partnership of major European cancer centers and companies operating state-of-the-art technologies to make a real change for women with breast and ovarian cancers.”

This innovative, collaborative research project is led by Professor Martin Widschwendter from the Department of Women’s Cancer at the University College London. Collaborators include Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic), Ludwig Maximilians University (Munich, Germany), and companies with expertise in epigenetics and next generation screening (GATC Biotech, Germany) and managing and analysing the large volumes of data created by these experiments (Genedata, Switzerland).

Breast and ovarian cancers pose huge and unsolved challenges to the medical profession. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the EU: more than 332,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and a woman dies every 6 minutes from this disease.

Ovarian cancer, whilst far less common than breast cancer, is often diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced stage and has spread to other areas of the body resulting in poor prognosis. More than 60% of ovarian cancer patients die within the first 5 years after diagnosis.

Implementation of successful screening programs has dramatically reduced the number of women dying from cervical cancer. Similarly, the EpiFemCare project aims to reduce the number of women who receive a diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer when that cancer is already advanced by 50%, also reduce the number of women who receive unnecessary long-term chemotherapy by 50%, and reduce the number of women dying from these female cancers by 20%.

The EpiFemCare project is partially funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Program for Research and Innovation (FP7).

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