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GeneCentric, Erasmus University to Research RNA Biomarkers, Therapies for Bladder Cancer

NEW YORK – GeneCentric Therapeutics and the Netherlands-based Erasmus University Medical Center said on Thursday that they are collaborating to identify RNA-based drug response markers and novel, targeted therapies for treating non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).

Under the research collaboration, North Carolina-based GeneCentric will use its Bladder Cancer Subtype Profiler tool to characterize the tumor, the patient's immune biology, and the tumor microenviroment. It may also use other novel assays to predict disease progression and drug response in these patients.

Erasmus will perform retrospective longitudinal genomic analysis on bladder cancer tumor samples from patients who had surgery and received adjuvant treatment.

"This collaboration will provide a more complete and fundamental understanding of NMIBC drivers of disease progression, innate and active immune system involvement, and factors related to treatment response and failure or drug resistance," Tahlita Zuiverloon, principal investigator at the Erasmus MC Urothelial Cancer Research Group, said in a statement.

According to the companies, currently there are no well-characterized genomic subtypes associated with disease progression and drug response in patients with NMIBC. GeneCentric CEO Mike Milburn said in a statement that the collaboration with Erasmus "has potential to augment our molecular gene signatures to help define these subtypes and inform clinical decision making and drug development."

Decipher Biosciences in 2017 launched Decipher Bladder, which classifies bladder cancer patients into one of five molecular subtypes: basal, claudin-low, luminal-infiltrated, luminal, and neuroendocrine-like. In May, the company published on the ability of its subtyping platform to determine which bladder cancer patients benefit from neoadjuvant treatment with pembrolizumab (Merck's Keytruda).