Targeted Molecular Diagnostics (TMD), the oncology biomarker specialist acquired last December by US-based contract research organisation (CRO) Quintiles Transnational, has launched two new laboratory tests for use in the clinical development of targeted cancer therapies.

The mutation assays, BRAF and PI3KCA, identify the genomic changes that occur in individual patients’ cancer and can help researchers to determine the optimum treatment plan in a trial. Studies have shown a correlation between changes to BRAF and PI3KCA genes and individual responses to certain cancer therapies, Quintiles notes.

In a number of cancers the BRAF gene may be mutated, which can exacerbate the growth and spread of cancer cells, the CRO points out. PI3KCA gene mutations have been found in various solid tumours, such as breast, colon, lung, ovarian, liver and stomach cancer. TMD’s PI3KCA assay detects the four most common mutations in the gene.

According to Quintiles, TMD is one of the first central laboratories to offer the BRAF and PI3KCA assays for the clinical development of oncology therapies, underlining its commitment to advancing personalised medicine. “Using mutation assays is likely to become the standard of care in the future,” comments Christopher Ung, vice-president, strategic business and operations for the TMD unit.