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In Brief This Week: OncoHost, Matica Biotechnology, Xilis, Aptose Biosciences, Cigna

NEW YORK – Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute this week joined a global clinical trial evaluating OncoHost's diagnostic platform Prophet as a method to predict whether cancer patients will respond to immunotherapy. The trial, called PROPHETIC, is evaluating the platform in patients with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, and malignant melanoma. Ernesto Bustinza-Linares, a medical oncologist at Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute, is serving as a principal investigator for the study, which has 35 trial sites globally. 

Matica Biotechnology said this week that it has opened a new 45,000-square-foot cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility in College Station, Texas. The contract development and manufacturing organization will use the facility to produce viral vectors and cell-based products used in cell and gene therapies, vaccines, and oncolytic therapies, among other genetic medicines. Matica is already collaborating with Sartorius on viral vector manufacturing and with Texas A&M University's Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing on various projects to advance biotech research and development and commercial manufacturing. 

Xilis said this week that it has joined Oncode-PACT, a public-private consortium to develop new cancer drugs. It is led by the Netherlands-based Oncode Institute and supported by the National Growth Fund, an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Ministry of Finance. Xilis will apply its tumorsphere microencapsulation platform to develop new insights into tumor microenvironments and heterogeneity of tumors for high-throughput therapeutic profiling. 

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted Fast Track designation to Aptose Biosciences' myeloid kinome inhibitor, HM43239, for patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia with a mutation in FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3). The drug is being tested in a Phase I/II trial for that indication. It has already been given orphan drug designation by the FDA for acute myeloid leukemia. 

Cigna this week launched a provider consult service via its health services business Evernorth to improve outcomes for patients with complex cancers. The service will connect community oncology providers and their patients with experts at National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer centers, who in turn will connect patients and oncologists with diagnostics and treatments, including genomically informed precision medicine. Using proprietary technology, Cigna identifies patients with complex cancers who might benefit from a consultative review. After that, a subspecialty expert from one of more than 20 NCI-designated cancer centers reviews the patient and recommends the best available tests, therapies, or clinical trials. City of Hope, through its subsidiary AccessHope, is also making NCI-designated cancer center expertise accessible to cancer patients treated in the community setting through employee-sponsored health plans. 

Caris Life Sciences said this week that Loma Linda University Cancer Center has joined its Precision Oncology Alliance, a network of cancer centers across the globe that collaborate to advance precision oncology and biomarker-driven research. The Caris POA currently includes 63 cancer centers and academic institutions. Members gain early access to Caris' database and artificial intelligence platform for cancer profiling and molecular testing in oncology, as well as to CODEai, the company's database with cancer treatment information and clinical outcomes data for over 275,000 patients. 

The LUNGevity Foundation this week launched an EGFR-mutant lung cancer-focused online resource within its Patient Gateway education tool for lung cancer survivors. The resource will help patients learn about EGFR mutations, find specialists and clinical trials for their cancer type, and join patient and caregiver communities. The foundation started the Patient Gateway resource last year and has since launched resources for non-small cell lung cancer, along with ALK and KRAS-mutation specific gateways.  

23andMe said this week that customers can now schedule telehealth consultations on genetic test reports with care providers from Lemonaid Health, which the company acquired last year for $400 million. In this first phase of integration of Lemonaid, 23andMe will focus on genetic health risk reports for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers as well as for familial hypercholesterolemia. Subscribers to the 23andMe+ premium service will also be able to discuss pharmacogenetic reports with Lemonaid clinicians. Initial consultations will cost $65, while follow-up virtual patient visits will run $110, the company said. 

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared in Precision Oncology News.