Technology Awards 2019

18 GHP / Technology Awards 2019 , Leading Specialists in Precision Oncology Technology 2019 – Europe Barron Biomedical, an enterprise analysing cancer genes to identify the most suitable therapy for the individual patient, was recognised once again by GHP for its extraordinary work in Precision Oncology. As advancements in Precision Oncology continue to break records, we caught up with Barron Biomedical’s Managing Director, Dr. Carlos Barron on Precision Oncology, as well as the services and research projects conducted by his innovative company. The cost of sequencing a human genome has dropped from $14 million in 2006 to below $1,000 today. This dramatic fall reflects the spectacular evolution of DNA sequencing technologies. In Personalised or Precision Oncology, the contribution of sequencing consists of the identification of gene variants in the cancer cells that anticipate whether a drug will be effective or not, thus allowing a tailored therapy (see Fig. 1). Dr. Barron believes that sequencing alone is not enough, and that it is also essential to consider the interaction among the involved genes, the quality of patient samples, the quality of sequencing data and the clinical interpretation of variants to name but a few. In the area of Drug Selection, Barron Biomedical offers a service consisting of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and the analysis of hundreds of genes of the tumour or the hematologic malignancy, to find out the most suitable drugs for the individual patient. Dr. Barron explains that “…the NGS services of competitors provide a list of variants with matched drugs, but they lack the interactions among the genes, drug prioritisation and therapeutic strategy. Our core competence is our ‘Comprehensive Analysis’, which integrates the information on the affected genes into a model that describes the molecular mechanisms of the individual cancer. The model allows the identification of the Achilles heel of the individual cancer and, together with the clinical and pathological data, the best therapeutic strategy based on targeted drugs. Also, we offer to NGS-laboratories our Comprehensive Analysis for the variants they find.” As for the research in this area, Dr. Barron touches on his project “Personalisation of Chemotherapy”. This project pursues the development of technologies to identify those chemotherapeutic drugs with the highest probability of response, and the lowest of adverse events for the individual patient. He outlines: “…we have a scientifically founded concept, a technological strategy and clinical partners. The project has future because of the huge market for chemotherapy and the enormous need to increase its efficacy and reduce its toxicity. In addition, the targeted therapies will further increase their value in combination with an improved chemotherapy.” The second area Barron Biomedical has positioned itself is in the collection of High-Quality Patient Samples, which are required for the discovery, as well as in the routine determination of biomarkers and targets. Unfortunately, the sample quality has been underestimated in the biotech and pharma R&D. Many projects start with samples acquired without control of the preanalytical variables affecting gene expression (temperature, ischemia, fixative, etc.), which leads to non-reproducible biomarkers and targets. In the clinical routine, a low quality sample leads to distorted results. For this area, Dr. Barron mentioned his research project “Genuine Tumour Gene Expression”, Dec19187 as he divulges. “Here at Barron Biomedical, we have developed a method to collect tumour biopsies controlling the preanalytical variables, thus avoiding the distortion of gene expression. We plan to integrate our method into a medical device to take high- quality samples. Such samples are needed to improve biomarker research, target discovery, and Precision Oncology.” Based on its great experience in the field, the company also offers consulting services around Precision Oncology. Bringing the interview to a close, Dr. Barron signs off by stating that “Precision Oncology has become one of the most fascinating fields of biomedical sciences. Despite this, our company’s mission remains unchanged: we focus on the cancer patient and how to improve his/her chances of survival through personalisation.” Company: Barron Biomedical [email protected] Web: Barron Biomedical Figure 1. A gene encodes a protein (green) that is blocked by a drug and cannot send the proliferation signal to the cancer cell. A gene sequence variant modifies the protein (red) that is not blocked and can send the signal.