SUDBURY – A test developed in Sudbury is proving successful in predicting which breast cancer patients will best respond to chemotherapy and live cancer-free for a longer period of time following treatment.
Results conducted into the RNA Disruption Assay™ (RDA™) test were presented last month at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in San Antonio, Texas.
The RDA™ test was developed by Dr. Amadeo Parissenti of Sudbury, and his research associate Dr. Baoqing Guo of Health Sciences North. Dr. Parissenti is Chief Scientific Officer for Rna Diagnostics, based in Toronto and Sudbury. Dr. Parissenti is also a Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Laurentian University, Professor of Medical Sciences at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), and an affiliate scientist at the Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada (AMRIC), which is the research arm of Health Sciences North.
The research findings were based on a clinical trial of 85 breast cancer patients. The patients were given the RDA™ test midway through their chemotherapy treatment. The patients were then tracked following the completion of their chemotherapy.
The RDA test quantifies the effect of chemotherapy on the quality of ribonucleic acid (RNA) within the tumour. Tumours responding positively to chemotherapy showed markedly reduced RNA quality (a phenomenon called “RNA disruption”). The tumour is then assigned an RNA disruption score. A high RNA disruption score means there has been significant degradation of the RNA within the tumour, making the tumour nonviable and likely to die. A low RNA disruption score means very little loss of RNA quality within the tumour, which means it will continue to be viable and likely grow.
The research concluded that those patients with a high tumour RNA disruption score lived about two to three-and-a-half years longer cancer-free than patients with a low tumour RNA disruption score, following completion of chemotherapy.
“This new test could become the gold standard for predicting the effectiveness of chemotherapy in breast cancer,” says Dr. Amadeo Parissenti. “The current benchmark for measuring the effectiveness of chemotherapy only happens after the treatment is finished. But with the RDA™ method we can predict during treatment who is actually responding to chemotherapy and who isn’t. Those patients who are not responding can then be switched to another treatment and spared the side effects of unnecessary chemotherapy. By having that ability to predict who is not responding and switching their treatment, we can potentially improve both their survival rates and quality of life.”
“These are wonderful results. This study shows the RDA method is very effective in predicting which breast cancer patients are most likely to benefit from chemotherapy. This will have profound implications for their care and ability to beat cancer,” adds Dr. Kenneth Pritzker, CEO of Rna Diagnostics.
Laurentian University licensed the technology behind RDATM to Rna Diagnostics, the first commercial license ever granted by the university, in order to bring this new medical diagnostic tool to breast cancer patients around the world.
“This is an incredible achievement for medical research in Sudbury which demonstrates the importance of research in universities and hospitals,” said Dr. Patrice Sawyer, Vice-President, Research and Francophone Affairs at Laurentian University. “Health research is a key focus for Laurentian University and we are thrilled by the recent developments using the RDA technology.”
“As a professor of medical sciences at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Dr. Parissenti sets a first-rate example for our learners in two ways: first, in his commitment to improving the quality of patient care, and second, in his dedication to high-quality medical research” explains Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM Dean. “I am so pleased that our learners have the opportunity to work with world-class researchers such as Dr. Parissenti here in the Northern Ontario. I extend my sincere congratulations to Dr. Parissenti and his team for this important breakthrough!”
The laboratory testing for this study was conducted in Sudbury at AMRIC, where Rna Diagnostics leases lab space. Further evaluative research of the RDA method is ongoing within Sudbury.
“Congratulations to Dr. Parissenti and his team for these remarkable and promising results,” says Dr. Francisco Diaz-Mitoma, AMRIC’s CEO and Chief Scientific Officer. “The success so far of this work and the collaboration involved with other key partners is a prime example of the value and potential of developing the health research sector in Greater Sudbury. The world-class research being done here has global implications.”
“Dr. Parissenti’s breakthrough work once again demonstrates that research is health care,” adds Dr. Denis Roy, President and CEO of Health Sciences North. “It is research like this that leads to discoveries and innovations that ultimately save lives. Health care and research partners in Greater Sudbury’s are showing true initiative and global leadership in this field.”
Jan Craig, Rna Diagnostics