Arkansas Patent of the Month – August 2020
Arkansas’ BioVentures has developed a method of diagnosing multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, through assessment of gene expression profiles. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 32,270 cases of multiple myeloma in the U.S. this year, with around 12,830 expected deaths. BioVentures’ invention provides easier, more accurate prognoses for: (1) those that have this cancer, and (2) those suspected of developing it.
The multiple myeloma methods are based on gene expression profiling using:
- enolase 1 (ENO1),
- fatty acid binding protein 5 (FABP5),
- thyroid hormone receptor interactor 13 (TRIP13),
- transgelin 2 (TAGLN2), and
- replication factor C (activator 1) 4 (RFC4).
The test quantifies the gene expression levels of each of these genes; an abnormal gene expression profile is a poor prognosis.
For those who have this cancer, the gene expression levels can be tested at the protein level or the nucleic acid level, and are commonly tested on people undergoing myeloma therapy. A poor prognosis could mean a reduced likelihood of overall survival (OS) and/or a reduced likelihood of progression-free survival (PFS).
If a person is suspected of having multiple myeloma (but hasn’t yet been diagnosed), the gene expressions are tested from a nucleic acid sample, where again abnormal or elevated gene expression means a poor prognosis.
In either case, BioVentures’ aims to be able to also provide recommendations of treatments, based on the test results. For example, a poor prognosis (high risk myeloma) may indicate the need for a more aggressive myeloma therapy (either by adding treatments to a regimen and/or increasing the dose of treatments). Or, the best action may be a less aggressive treatment, focusing on patient comfort instead of eliminating disease. Alternatively, a favorable prognosis (low risk myeloma) can indicate that a more aggressive myeloma therapy can be avoided, withdrawn, or a more aggressive therapy may be used to attempt to eliminate disease.
BioVentures was established as a formal outgrowth of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences‘ (UAMS). Its aim is to promote a biomedical technology industry for Arkansas and translate its research into products that benefit human health. It links the research minds at UAMS to global markets in order to advance Arkansas’ scientific and economic development.
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