Cofactor Genomics, the developer of advanced RNA analysis tools, has announced that it has entered into an agreement with the National Cancer Institute, along with agreements with research groups at three other academic and pharma institutions, to demonstrate the clinical utility of their immune-profiling assay, Cofactor Paragon.

These research collaborations are centered on applying Cofactor’s RNA-based immune profiling technology to better understand the immune profiles of patients suffering from diseases such as sarcoma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, and bladder cancer, as initial case studies. The field of immune-oncology has grown at an unprecedented rate – with nearly 300 companies invested in over 2,000 drugs in the development pipeline. The tools currently available to profile the tumor microenvironment have significant disadvantages, including expense, costly equipment, substantial amounts of biopsied material required, as well as difficult to quantify and interpret data. Cofactor’s approach may improve upon these existing technologies by delivering RNA-based data in an easy-to-interpret report.

“New immunotherapies and combination therapies are moving into clinical studies very rapidly. There is a need for advanced assays which enable thorough molecular tumor profiling to better predict and interpret patient response,” said Dr. James Gulley, Head of the Immunotherapy Section of the Genitourinary Malignancies Branch at the NCI Center for Cancer Research.

Under a new Material Transfer Agreement, the NCI will provide to Cofactor, clinical specimens for analysis from several of its clinical trials, in order to jointly validate the Cofactor Paragon assay platform. While the majority of samples for these initial studies will be processed in Cofactor’s St. Louis-based laboratories (which includes a CAP-accredited RNA-sequencing facility), data and feedback from these studies will enable the company to transition the assay to an off-the-shelf sequencing kit, with complementary cloud-based informatics.

“We’re invested in demonstrating the power of Cofactor Paragon, but more importantly in making this tool accessible to as many labs as possible,” said Dr. Jarret Glasscock, CEO of Cofactor. “While we recognize our value as trusted service providers for our pharma partners, there are many laboratories who may wish to process samples in their own facilities, especially due to patient confidentiality concerns. We look forward to offering reagents, protocols, and paired analysis tools to translational researchers who are looking to implement a technology that may enable them to transition into a complementary or companion diagnostic in the future.”

Cofactor Genomics will present a series of lightning talks, where they share results from recent studies, during the 2018 American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) meeting, at Booth #3906.