The Future – EVA-PCD® Platform and Targeted Agents

As I mentioned in my last post, in our presentation at the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting, we showed clinical response rates were doubled by using the Ex-Vivo Analysis of Programmed Cell Death (EVA-PCD®) platform with standard FDA approved chemotherapeutic agents in NSCLC patients.

If we can achieve these types of results by simply reconfiguring existing drugs, it suggests that the EVA-PCD platform could provide even better results as we introduce larger numbers of active, targeted agents.

One such agent, PF-1066 provided an overall response rate of 64 percent when patients were selected for the EML4-ALK fusion oncogene. This type of approach, the selection of candidates for therapy predicated upon the biology of the patient, is precisely the premise underlying all of our work. While the PF-1066 data was strongly positive, it represented a very select population of lung cancer patients who carry a specific gene profile. Of all NSCLC patients, only 3-4 percent carry this gene. While recognizing targets like EGFR and ALK continue to improve responses, the EVA-PCD platform is capable of identifying patients for response even when the specific underlying genetic mechanism may be less well characterized. The capacity of the EVA-PCD platform to measure global cellular response enables us to select candidates for whom no known genetic predisposition exists.

About Dr. Robert A. Nagourney
Dr. Nagourney received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Boston University and his doctor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, where he was a University Scholar. After a residency in internal medicine at the University of California, Irvine, he went on to complete fellowship training in medical oncology at Georgetown University, as well as in hematology at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla. During his fellowship at Georgetown University, Dr. Nagourney confronted aggressive malignancies for which the standard therapies remained mostly ineffective. No matter what he did, all of his patients died. While he found this “standard of care” to be unacceptable, it inspired him to return to the laboratory where he eventually developed “personalized cancer therapy.” In 1986, Dr. Nagourney, along with colleague Larry Weisenthal, MD, PhD, received a Phase I grant from a federally funded program and launched Oncotech, Inc. They began conducting experiments to prove that human tumors resistant to chemotherapeutics could be re-sensitized by pre-incubation with calcium channel blockers, glutathione depletors and protein kinase C inhibitors. The original research was a success. Oncotech grew with financial backing from investors who ultimately changed the direction of the company’s research. The changes proved untenable to Dr. Nagourney and in 1991, he left the company he co-founded. He then returned to the laboratory, and developed the Ex-vivo Analysis - Programmed Cell Death ® (EVA-PCD) test to identify the treatments that would induce programmed cell death, or “apoptosis.” He soon took a position as Director of Experimental Therapeutics at the Cancer Institute of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. His primary research project during this time was chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He remained in this position until the basic research program funding was cut, at which time he founded Rational Therapeutics in 1995. It is here where the EVA-PCD test is used to identity the drug, combinations of drugs or targeted therapies that will kill a patient's tumor - thus providing patients with truly personalized cancer treatment plans. With the desire to change how cancer care is delivered, he became Medical Director of the Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Memorial in 2003. In 2008, he returned to Rational Therapeutics full time to rededicate his time and expertise to expand the research opportunities available through the laboratory. He is a frequently invited lecturer for numerous professional organizations and universities, and has served as a reviewer and on the editorial boards of several journals including Clinical Cancer Research, British Journal of Cancer, Gynecologic Oncology, Cancer Research and the Journal of Medicinal Food.

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