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New technology develops better personalized cancer treatments

By Josephine Mendez, Intern reporter
COURTESY PHOTO
Dr. Jagan Valluri, left, and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, professors at Marshall University are the creators of ChemoID.

Two professors from Marshall University developed a new way to personalize chemotherapy treatments that has proved to be 100 percent accurate thus far.

The process, called ChemoID, was created by Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Jagan Valluri, professor at the Department of Biological Sciences.

The ChemoID Assay testing process starts by taking a sample from a small tumor. Bulk tumor cells and cancer stem cells are then grown from the sample and treated with various chemotherapeutic agents to determine how many tumor-derived cells and CSCs are killed and how many remain after the use of each drug.

“The ChemoID test is truly what we call a second generation test because we are not only targeting the bulk of the tumor but we are also targeting the root of the tumor which is the cancer stem cells,” Valluri said.

By testing several chemotherapies on a patient’s tumor cells before treating a cancer patient, ChemoID ensures a faster reaction time by selecting the most favorable chemotherapy drug.

It also has the potential to decrease the number of toxins the patients is exposed to during treatments and increases the survival rate for cancer patients, according to Claudio and Valluri’s research.

“Instead of going through trial and error we are providing a better pair of glasses for oncologists to make a decision on which chemotherapy will work the best for an individual patient,” Claudio said. “This can increase the chances for a patient to have longer periods of remission or even possibly a cure.”

The two began developing this ChemoID research 10 years ago and in 2010 they moved into the clinical trial phase of their research. Out of the 130 cases in the trial, 68 of them have been analyzed and show the treatment selected by ChemoID to be 100 percent effective.

Some clinical trial patients had previously undergone failed chemotherapy treatments, but after using the chemotherapy selected by the ChemoID Assay test the patients have been in remission for at least six months.

“If we do ChemoID testing on cancer patients after initial diagnosis we can provide a much more favorable outcome because ineffective chemotherapies do not make the cancer very strong or resistant,” Valluri said.

ChemoID also helps lower the costs of treatments by eliminating unnecessary and ineffective chemotherapies.

During their study, Valluri said they researched the amount of money spent on cancer treatment in West Virginia. They found that each year there are about 3,600 new Medicaid cancer patients and $100,000 to 200,000 is spent in treating these patients. Thirty percent of the costs are chemotherapy drug-related costs.

“If this technology is deployed early on for all newly diagnosed patients we can save the state anywhere from $25-30 million,” Valluri said. “That’s a huge saving for personalizing chemotherapy and to the point that you deselect the wrong chemotherapy and dial in the right chemotherapy for the patient.”

Although Claudio and Valluri started with testing tumor samples from hospitals in West Virginia, they have received samples from Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and even Europe.

Starting Sept. 1, in collaboration with the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cabell Huntington Hospital, this type of testing will be offered to all cancer patients nationwide.

“Since this technology will be commercially available in a CLIA (clinical laboratory improvement amendments) certified laboratory at the Cabell Huntington Hospital we can receive samples from anywhere in state but also from anywhere in the U.S. and also from abroad,” Valluri said.

In order to get the word out about ChemoID, Claudio will attend the Fifth International Conference on Recent Advances in Health and Medical Sciences July 6-12 in Paphos, Cyprus. During the conference, Claudio will present that data from the clinical studies as well as other research conducted which proves the numerous benefits of ChemoID.

Their next goal is to receive a 510K clearance. This would make ChemoID more accessible for all cancer patients. Right now the test can only be issued at the request of an oncologist.

Contact writer Josephine Mendez at jozy.mendez@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-7917. Follow her at www.lifeofanintern-charlestondailymail.blogspot.com.


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