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Micronics Receives Grant from National Cancer Institute to Advance Point of Care Diagnostic for Colon Cancer Detection; Focus on Early Colon Cancer Detection in Partnership with Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute.

REDMOND, Wash. -- Micronics, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a Phase I grant under the National Cancer Institute's Small Business Innovation Research Program to develop a point-of-care diagnostic system for early detection of colon cancer. Micronics is collaborating with researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center under this award.

The objective of the project is to validate a new strategy for more sensitive and robust colon cancer detection in blood, and to establish its clinical utility for earlier detection, prognosis, and monitoring of patient response to drug therapy. Initial efforts will focus on tumor cell detection using Micronics' microfluidics technology, followed by evaluation of the test's clinical utility in colon cancer patients.

Colorectal cancer affects approximately 147,000 people in the United States each year and is most effectively treated when diagnosed at an early stage. Currently, the most accurate colon cancer detection method is colonoscopy, which is effective for colon cancer prevention, but expensive and invasive. The need exists for less invasive, early detection tests, such as blood- or stool-based tests.

In addition to early detection assays, there is a need for predictive and prognostic tests that can be used during a patient's visit to the doctor's office to identify optimal treatment regimens for individual patients who have colon cancer. The detection of circulating tumor cells has the potential to be used to meet these clinical needs, but where circulating colon tumor cells are detectable in late-stage colon cancer patients, no adequate test methods exist today for the early diagnosis or detection of colon cancer.

The award advances the development of a near-patient diagnostic test that can be used routinely in a doctor's office. Using Micronics' microfluidics-enabled flow cytometry platform in combination with molecular assays developed by Dr. William Grady of the Hutchinson Center, the company expects to expand upon earlier NCI-funded work to provide substantial improvements in rare tumor cell enrichment from blood by sorting an appropriate tumor marker that identifies the majority of early-stage patients without false positive or negative results. The end objective is development of an integrated point-of-care test that will be more compatible with clinical laboratory testing.

"Micronics is dedicated to advancing the next generation of medically responsive point-of-care diagnostic tests," said Dr. John Gerdes, Micronics chief scientific officer who will direct the overall project. "And it's a pleasure to undertake this effort with a collaborator of Dr. William Grady's caliber, who has been nationally recognized for his work in understanding the molecular pathogenesis of colon cancer and the use of these molecular alterations as biomarkers for colon cancer."

Dr. Grady is an assistant member of the Clinical Research Division at the Hutchinson Center and Medical Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Program Clinic at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and has an active research program focused on the study of genetic and epigenetic alterations in gastrointestinal cancer. He has demonstrated in published studies that aberrantly methylated genes can be used as blood-based and feces-based detection biomarkers for colon cancer. He has expertise in translational studies and brings this expertise of the molecular biology and clinical aspects of colon cancer to the studies in this grant that uses Micronics' innovative technologies.

Micronics today is best known for its platform microfluidics technology and ability to enable a new generation of lower cost, rapid, and highly sensitive point-of-care diagnostics. The company provides custom development of credit card sized laboratory-on-a-card devices that are responsive to the increasing global demand for easy to use tests that can be used in the doctor's office, emergency room, hospital or other near-patient settings. Micronics is developing such products across a range of applications, including immunoassay and molecular diagnostics.

About Micronics

Micronics is a privately held company based in Redmond, WA. The company employs an important patent portfolio of 50 issued patents and over 40 pending applications in the field of microfluidics -- a platform technology which makes it possible to significantly miniaturize and manipulate fluids, including biological samples and reagents required to perform a clinical assay. In addition to its ability to work directly from whole blood, urine, and other biological samples on its disposable devices, Micronics is noted for its ability to rapidly prototype new disposable devices using low cost plastics. Micronics was formed in 1996. In addition to developing products for others, Micronics also has been advancing several molecular diagnostic products of its own. For additional information, please visit www.micronics.net

About FHCRC

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a research institute based in Seattle, Washington and affiliated with the University of Washington. The FHCRC has interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians working together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The researchers at FHCRC, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit www.fhcrc.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Apr 11, 2006
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