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Proteona awards grant to clinician-scientist for research in treatment selection of multiple myeloma
Proteona awards grant to clinician-scientist for research in treatment selection of multiple myeloma
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Singapore | 9 December 2019

Proteona Pte. Ltd. has announced the results of the inaugural Proteona Oncology Challenge, co-sponsored by NovogeneAIT. The challenge was launched in September 2019 called for abstract contributions from scientists and clinicians working to solve major clinical issues in oncology using ESCAPE? RNA-Seq single cell proteogenomic analysis services.

The final grant prize was awarded to Dr Cesar Rodrigues Valdes form the Wake Forest School of Medicine, USA. He is currently an assistant professor and a leading Haematologist based in Winston-Salem, USA.

Multiple myeloma is identified as the second most common blood cancer in the United States. Despite efforts to improve patient outcome through novel available therapies, it remains as one of the blood cancers with the poorest prognosis. Within the United States alone multiple myeloma accounts for 12, 960 deaths annually.

At present, there is no cure for multiple myeloma and patients need to be carefully monitored and managed to keep the disease in check. This in itself is no easy task as myeloma cells are highly heterogeneous, and the change of relapse is regular. The continuous need of medication also makes the blood cancer an expensive disease to manage.

One key challenge is therapy selection for treatment of multiple myeloma, particular for relapse patients. The large number of drug choices contributes to the lack of feasibility of conducting a head-to-head clinical comparison of all possible drug combinations. Resulting clinical decision-making would rely heavily on the knowledge and experience of clinicians. Data-driven tools can be extremely valuable in assisting clinicians in medical decision-making.

Dr Rodrigeuz Valdes's proposal aims to tackle the issue of treatment selection for multiple myeloma. By applying single-cell proteogenomics in his patient-derived 3D organoid model, he will compare cell populations in response to multiple drugs, identifying the difference in protein and gene expression patterns. These studies will help to elucidate the mechanism of drug sensitivity, and potentially help to choose the suitable therapeutic combination for each patient.

"We are excited about combining Proteona's single-cell proteogenomic analysis with our patient-derived organoid screening platform," said Dr Rodriguez Valdes. "Our ambition is to develop a predictive, validated test that will facilitate clinical decision-making and improve the outcome of multiple myeloma treatment. This grant will help us to move closer to that goal."

Since its launch in September 2019, the Challenge has received numerous submissions from all over the world from different fields of oncology.

"It has been a difficult decision to make," said Proteona CEO, Andreas Schmidt. "We have seen many excellent, high quality projects, each addressing an important clinical question. We had to take into consideration different factors including availability of samples, expected time to clinical impact, and feasibility. We actually decided to expand the original grant and to give out additional awards to recognize some of the best proposals. We are excited about working with these top teams, and use the in-depth information from single cell proteogenomic analysis to bring their projects closer to clinical application."

Other award winners of the Proteona Oncology Challenge include:

Runner-up: Dr Sanjay de Mel - National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

Dr Nicholas Gascoigne – National University of Singapore, Singapore
Dr Steve Bilodeau – Université Laval, Canada
Dr Aaron Tan – National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore

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