Putting their heads together

Rosetta Genomics sparking miRNA-based diagnostics for brain cancer with Henry Ford

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REHOVOT, Israel—Rosetta Genomics Ltd. has kicked off a collaboration with Detroit-based Henry Ford Hospital to develop miRNA-based diagnostics and prognostics for brain cancer—a pairing that could yield benefits for drug research. "We are aiming at discovering potential new biomarkers for predicting the outcome of brain tumors," says Ayelet Chajut, Ph.D., EVP R&D, molecular biology with Rosetta Genomics. "We are focusing on the actual tumor, which can be unpredictable. Some patients suffering with this form of cancer die immediately while others live up to 10 years." Chajut says more accurate predictions of how a patient's cancer will react can lead to enhanced therapeutic offerings. As a result, research stemming from the collaboration could bear fruit for the development of new therapeutic treatments."There will be potential new drug targets identified," says Chajut, adding that the results could have potential for commercial development by drug companies. Under the collaboration, researchers will conduct a genome-wide molecular analysis of human brain cancer tumors to identify unique miRNA biomarkers that have diagnostic and prognostic potential, says Ranit Aharonov, Ph.D., EVP R&D, computational biology with Rosetta Genomics. Based on the final result, Rosetta will use its proprietary miRNA extraction technologies to perform an miRNA analysis from Henry Ford Hospital's Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded (FFPE) tissue samples."Our goal is to seek out new indications for our microRNA-based diagnostics," says Chajut. "Working in this collaboration, we believe we can leverage the potential microRNAs hold as biomarkers to develop diagnostic and prognostic tools for brain cancer."Founded in 2000, Rosetta Genomics is involved in the development of microRNA (miRNA)-based diagnostics and therapeutics. The company's integrative research platform combining bioinformatics and laboratory processes has led to the discovery of hundreds of biologically validated novel human miRNA.Aharonov said the company has a well-populated pipeline and with its proprietary platform technologies, Rosetta Genomics is working to develop a full range of miRNA-based diagnostic and therapeutic products, focusing primarily on cancer and various women's health indications. The company already is conducting research as part of the collaboration with Henry Ford Hospital and expects to see results within the year. Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, of the department of neurosurgery at Henry Ford Hospital, says the collaboration fills an unmet medical need for improved diagnostics in identifying and treating patients with brain cancer."A significant advantage of using microRNA as biomarkers is that they do not degrade when the tumor sample is stored as an FFPE block. As FFPE blocks can be stored at room temperature, these sample types are readily available and allow us to conduct retrospective studies," says Mikkelsen, co-director of the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center. "Through these studies, we can identify microRNA diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, such as for disease staging, response to treatment, and risk of recurrence. Combining Rosetta Genomics' technologies for microRNA research and its experience in this field with our expertise in brain cancer is a good starting point for this important project." DDNeditconnect: e020815

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