Where is cancer research headed in the next decade? Scientists and oncologists at the National Cancer Institute share their thoughts on proteogenomics.
Oncology has experienced more constant change in the last 30 years than from the late 20th century to the time cancer was first identified in 440 B.C. The rapid pace of innovation in oncology has been fueled by an immense knowledge explosion about cancers at the tumor molecular level, how they grow and how to treat them in different subpopulations. And while the advances we see in oncology today – targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and precise diagnostics – has made some significant strides on patient care, more molecular information about a person’s risk for certain cancers as well as what drugs might work best for cancer patients is needed. As a result, cancer remains a massive health problem that researchers across the US and elsewhere are working tirelessly to solve.
In a recently published article on April 1, 2021 in the journal Cell (link is external), Drs. Henry Rodriguez, Jean Claude Zenklusen, Louis Staudt, James Doroshow, and Douglas Lowy at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, examine cancer through the lens of comprehensive molecular characterization of tumors from cancer patients. They describe the significant contributions of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC) to multidisciplinary collaborative team science and precision oncology, and make the case that proteogenomics needs to be fully integrated into clinical trials and patient care. This approach of genomic and proteomic markers, also highlighted in an FDA draft guidance of enrichment strategies that drug developers can use to gain insights into the safety and efficacy of drugs, will further enable precision oncology to deliver the right cancer treatment to the right patient at the right dose and at the right time.
Cell Press has created an online space dedicated to archiving CPTAC research(link is external) that has and will be published in its family of journals. These papers provide strong resource-based frameworks to better understand a range of human cancers through the lens of precision oncology and will be valuable in informing effective treatment options.
There are early-stage private companies working towards making proteomics a commercial and clinical reality.
Nautilus Biotechnology, Inc., a company developing a single-molecule protein analysis platform for quantifying the human proteome, and Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp III, a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC, sponsored by Perceptive Advisors, announced in February a definitive business combination agreement.
The combined company is expected to receive proceeds of approximately $350 million at the closing of the transaction (assuming no redemptions are effected) and will continue to operate under the Nautilus management team, led by founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sujal Patel, and founder and Chief Scientist, Parag Mallick. The boards of directors of both Arya III and Nautilus have approved the proposed transaction. Completion of the transaction, which is expected in the second quarter of 2021, is subject to approval of Arya III’s shareholders and the satisfaction or waiver of certain other customary closing conditions.
Nautilus was co-founded in 2016 by Sujal Patel, founder and CEO of Isilon Systems, a publicly-traded company that sold to EMC in 2010 for $2.6B, and Parag Mallick, PhD, Associate Professor of Radiology at Stanford University and a member of BioX, Stanford’s pioneering interdisciplinary biosciences institute, and the Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection. The leadership team combines its entrepreneurial and research backgrounds to solve the challenge of more easily and completely quantifying the proteins that drive every aspect of human physiology. That limitation has impeded scientific and pharmaceutical R&D and Nautilus’ platform will enable a more comprehensive understanding of cellular and organismic biology.
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