We were grateful for the opportunity to attend and present at the AACR Annual Meeting last week, where three of our scientists highlighted some of the exciting work happening in our Vancouver lab.

1- Method for identifying microsatellite instability high DNA abnormality samples, presented by Rosalia Aguirre-Hernandez, Computational Biology Senior Manager

Sequencing costs can add up quickly for tissue biopsies. This poster presents a machine learning algorithm to identify microsatellite instability (MSI) samples without the use of normal tissue, which typically doubles the cost of next-generation sequencing.

Tissue samples with high microsatellite instability (MSI-H) can be indicators of cancerous tumors, which are sensitive to certain types of cancer treatments. The team at ICH developed a method for classifying a tissue sample as being MSI-H without having to use normal tissue from the same person, thus decreasing the cost of sequencing. The MSI detection algorithm that the team developed can accurately identify samples with MSI-H tumors. When used in a clinical setting, these patients can be directed to treatments such as immune-checkpoint inhibitors.

During the conference, we received several questions asking if our algorithm was publicly available. If you would like to learn more about this study or discuss how we can work together, please reach out to bd@imagiacanexia.com.

Click here to view the poster


2- Liquid biopsy testing in metastatic or advanced breast cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, presented by Benjamin Furman, Senior Bioinformatician

Through Project ACTT (Access to Cancer Testing and Treatment), we provided free, liquid biopsy testing to a large number of Canadian cancer patients at a time when traditional testing was a challenge to get during the COVID-19 pandemic. The data from these samples allows us to develop insights into the mutational landscape of various cancer types.

This particular poster highlighted a population of Canadian women with metastatic breast cancer who were tested using a liquid biopsy gene panel to identify biomarkers that could match them with targeted therapies. Over 50% of the samples were identified as hormone positive, with greater than 60% harboring PIK3CA and ESR1 ctDNA mutations. Studies have shown that metastatic PIK3CA mutated ER-positive/HER2-negative tumors are predicted to respond to alpelisib therapy, which has FDA and Health Canada approval. This means that patients with these mutations can be matched with the targeted therapy for treatment.

With help from our partners, we will continue to offer free testing to Canadians with certain cancer types. To build on this work, we hope to explore this data in more detail, contributing to the scientific field of cancer genetics.

Click here to view the poster


3- Development of a one-step molecular classifier for endometrial carcinoma using an amplicon-based gene panel and next generation sequencing technology, presented by Melissa McConechy, Principal Scientist

The original ProMisE (pragmatic molecular classification tool) test requires multiple steps to derive the molecular subtypes for endometrial cancer. Clinically, tests can be performed at multiple centres and at different times, and results may not be provided to patients until after treatment has already begun. This defeats the purpose of molecular testing for endometrial cancer, since results can help determine more effective treatment decisions. This poster presents a study conducted by the ICH team using a one step DNA-based test, Find It. Results were compared alongside ProMisE test results with the goal of recapitulating the prognostic value of ProMisE by producing concordant results with a single test. Results showed that Find It alone can perform the molecular classifier rather than two different tests.

A paper about this study is also being developed and will soon be submitted for publication.

Click here to view the poster


For more information about any of these posters and studies, or if you’d like to discuss how we can work together to bring these tests to your lab, hospital, or cancer care center, please reach out to bd@imagiacanexia.com.


Recent Resources


March 27, 2023

Project ACTT Webinar

Project ACTT (Access to Cancer Testing and Treatment) in Response to COVID-19 was a joint effort led by Imagia Canexia Health and supported by Digital Supercluster and partner institutions.