NEW YORK – McGill University Health Center (MUHC) Research Institute in Montreal said on Thursday it has partnered with medtech and precision medicine firms to conduct research into the molecular underpinning of stage IV colorectal cancer and ultimately develop a test that can identify patients unlikely to respond to standard treatment.
The research institute is working with MIMs, a company that uses artificial intelligence in life science research, and Caprion-HistoGeneX, which provides molecular testing and other diagnostics services to the drug industry. Funding for the research program will be provided by the MUHC Foundation and Medteq, a nonprofit that supports the Canadian medical technology industry.
The research team, led by Peter Metrakos from the MUHC Research Institute, will use liquid biopsy testing to assess patients' blood samples for DNA, RNA, proteins, and other blood components associated with colorectal cancer. MIMs will then analyze patients' anonymized data with its artificial intelligence platform and identify patterns that are associated with survival and that could be used to personalize treatment.
Specifically, the partners aim to identify a signature within the collected data that will distinguish which stage IV colorectal cancer patients will not respond to standard treatment and to identify precision oncology treatments for them. If successful, Caprion-HistoGeneX will develop a clinical test based on this signature.
The partners are hoping that their research will improve survival among advanced colorectal cancer patients. Only 12 percent of stage IV colorectal cancer patients live for five years after diagnosis. In Canada, it is the second leading cause of cancer death, accounting for more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer.