9 July 2020

Oncode funds project on clinical implementation of the MeD-seq assay

Elize Brolsma

Oncode created the clinical Proof-of-Concept fund (cPoC) to support the clinical translation of Oncode’s fundamental research. Together with support from our OEDES team, Clinical Advisory Board and Valorization team, Oncode Investigators - together with a clinician - develop their research into pre-clinical and clinical projects.

We are pleased to announce that the 11th grant within the cPoC programme has been awarded to Oncode Investigator Joost Gribnau (Erasmus MC)*. Together with colleagues, he will work on the clinical implementation of their recently developed MeD-seq assay. The goal of the project is to deliver proof of concept of the clinical applicability of their MeD-seq assay, which is able to detect tumor-specific epigenetic patterns in the circulating cell-free DNA in the blood of patients. The researchers will evaluate whether this assay can predict early recurrence in colorectal cancer patients with surgically removable liver metastases.

The MeD-seq assay examines epigenetic changes in tumor derived DNA, providing the patients with a more accurate prognosis soon after their surgery. The test will also enable a more personalized treatment, expected to improve outcome, by selecting those patients in need of additional treatment. In patients that have a low risk of early recurrence, the test may render follow up visits redundant, thereby reducing the amount of unnecessary anxiety for patients.

Joost Gribnau says: “Epigenetic modifications are subtle changes of DNA or DNA associated proteins that affect gene expression through multiple generations. Cancer progression is often associated with massive changes in the epigenetic landscape, and therefore often a good predictor for cancer progression and treatment outcome. Although cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of cancer cells, many cancer cells undergo cell death during tumorigenesis, whereby fragmented DNA of cancer cells can be found in the blood of the patients as part of the so called “cell-free” DNA in the circulation. We recently developed MeD-seq, a very simple assay to map DNA methylation, one of the best studied epigenetic modifications. The aim of our study is to apply MeD-seq on cell free DNA of colon carcinoma patients who underwent surgical resection of liver metastasis. With this project we want to be able to detect tumor-specific DNA methylation profiles that can be used to predict the onset and/or recurrence of disease in colon carcinoma patients.”

*Oncode Investigator Joost Gribnau works together in this project with Prof. dr. Stefan Sleijfer (clinician), Prof. Dr. Kees Verhoef (clinician), Prof. dr. John Martens, Dr. Saskia Wilting and Drs. Ruben Boers (Oncode researcher).

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Elize is part of Oncode’s communication team. She has over 10 years of experience in the com-munication industry, both for commercial and non-profit organisations. After obtaining her bache-lor and master degree in communication at Utrecht University, Elize worked as a communication professional at a research institute, PR agency, law firm and internet company. She has a strong focus on external communications and Public Relations. At Oncode - together with her colleagues - Elize produces the monthly newsletters for Oncode Investigators & Researchers and the Oncode digital magazine. She publishes content for the Oncode website and is responsible for all social media channels. She enjoys discussing science with researchers and support them in their outreach.
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