DNAe, alongside Imperial College London, has been awarded a UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) by Innovate UK to collaborate on the early detection of recurrent breast cancer.

The programme will support the development of a next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based diagnostic platform for use in cancer monitoring.

The work of the KTP is set to build on the existing research partnership between professor Coombes and professor Jacqui Shaw head of the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology and professor of Translational Cancer Genetics at the University of Leicester.

The programme is aiming to develop a ‘liquid biopsy’ test based on DNAe’s proprietary ‘sample to answer’ NGS technology – which is designed to directly detect and identify biomarkers and mutation hotspots that have been previously identified in Coombes’ and Shaw’s research.

The markers will be used to monitor treatment and hence detect the early recurrence of breast cancer.

Professor Charles Coombes, Professor of Medical Oncology, Imperial, and Honorary Consultant Medical Oncologist, Imperial College Healthcare Trust, said: “Cancer monitoring is a vital component of successful treatment. Firstly, we need to ensure a patient’s tumour is responding to the therapy, and secondly, patients in remission must be monitored for signs of recurrence. The current monitoring options are slow, and any delays to appropriate cancer care can lower the chance of survival and increase treatment-associated problems and costs. Although we are at the early stages, I believe that DNAe’s integrated, sequencing-based platform could ultimately provide rapid, actionable information that saves patients’ lives.”

Professor Jacqui Shaw, Head of the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, University of Leicester, added: “This is an exciting collaboration with DNAe and Imperial, where we will combine our expertise to develop a rapid integrated liquid biopsy platform for management of patients with breast cancer.”