Metastatic cancer is a cagey adversary, a shape- and form-changing disease that can be understood only by following its dynamics at a cellular level. Because most tests are based upon fixed assumptions of what cancer looks like, however, they come up short. For that reason, Epic Sciences chose a research road less traveled, a bias-free approach that looks at all cells in a non-invasive blood sample, and thus sees those rare cells that others miss.
That insight lead to a technology platform with an extraordinary ability to see, identify and characterize all the circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in a sample, and link their response or resistance to a panoply of drug classes. So that doctors can better understand their patient’s cancer and choose with the greatest possible certainty the drug or combination of therapies that will work best.
Personal, predictive and precise.
One proof of that approach is Epic’s AR-V7 CTC test, a test so sensitive and precise that it is predictive — it is, in fact, the world’s first predictive test for prostate cancer. Yet it’s just the first of many predictive tests to come from Epic’s rare-cell detection platform, which took a small army of canny scientists to create; including biologists, chemists, clinical researchers, data crunchers, imaging and software engineers and pattern- recognition specialists.
A few stats will suggest the prowess of Epic’s rare-cell detection engine. It is so sensitive that it can detect one cancer cell in the midst of 50 million normal ones. For every 10,000 patients tested, we may analyze 180 billion unique cells — and know what each is, thanks to proprietary machine learning algorithms which are trained on multi-dimensional morphologic and protein parameters. All these samples to be stored, with biomarkers, for future study in what may be the world’s largest biobank of cellular objects. (By the way, Epic is the only company in the blood-based testing sphere that also preserves all the white blood cells in a sample so that, as we track the evolution of cancer cells, we can also simultaneously understand what the immune system is doing in real-time.)
It’s a lot to get your arms around.
Yet despite this mountain of data, we never lose sight of the doctors who need certainty to make wise decisions and the patients whose lives depend it. So we push on, following the data wherever it leads.