Press Releases


Top International Experts Gather to Understand the Many Faces of Cancer

Second World Summit on Cancer Heterogeneity and Precision Medicine Meets in Washington


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 11, 2017 – Cancer experts from around the world will gather this week at a symposium to present their latest findings on novel anticancer strategies and technologies aimed at identifying and targeting all possible tumor variants, different in every patient and every form of the disease. Sponsored by the Menarini International Foundation and Menarini-Silicon Biosystems, “Resolving Cancer Heterogeneity: Drawing New Horizons in Precision Medicine,” will be held at the Congress Center of the Old Post Office Pavilion from May 11th to May 13th.

“Cancer heterogeneity is a major challenge we need to address to effectively diagnose and treat cancer with therapeutics that are more selective and individualized for each patient and for each stage of the disease,” explained Ignacio I. Wistuba, M.D., Chair of the Translational Molecular Pathology Department at the University of Texas MD Andersen Cancer Center in Houston, and co-president of the conference. “The power of modern molecular diagnostic techniques is often limited by the intrinsic genetic heterogeneity of tumor specimens. In the past few years, cancer diagnosis has moved to smaller and smaller samples, and biopsies are often composed of a limited amount of tumor tissue. Moreover, not all tumor populations are equally represented, and this may lead to a misinterpretation of genomic alterations.”

Tumor heterogeneity describes differences between tumors of the same type in different indivi­duals, and between cancer subpopulations within a tumor. Tumor heterogeneity is likely to have implications for cancer therapeutics and biomarker discovery as it can lead to different res­ponses to therapy. Genetic differences between cancer cells within a tumor might explain why some tumor cells remain present in the patient after the completion of cancer treatment.

“Circulating tumor cells — cancer cells that are released and disseminated into the blood stream and lymphatic system by advanced cancers, are a promising tool to study tumor hetero­geneity in patients, as they may be a very good representation of patients’ genomic variability. Moreover, their genetic analysis could allow monitoring the progress of the disease and assess­ing effectiveness of therapy in real-time with a minimally invasive test, thus overcoming some of the limitations related to solid tissue biopsies,” added Klaus Pantel, M.D., Director of the Depart­ment of Tumor Biology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, and co-president of the summit.

Following on the resounding success of last year’s international symposium on cancer hetero­geneity held in Verona, Italy, this congress will bring together experts in the fields of basic and clinical oncology, as well as molecular pathology, to discuss current issues in cancer treatment, limitations of diagnostic tools, and to explore technological solutions to resolve cancer hetero­geneity within the context of blood and tissue biopsies.

About DEPArray Technology

DEPArray™ technology (for research use only), developed by Menarini Silicon Biosystems, addresses the problem of tumor heterogeneity by enabling researchers to isolate pure tumor cells from minute tissue specimens containing very few tumor cells. Specimens of a few hundred cells, which in many cases are the only ones available, can subsequently be analyzed to identify precisely molecular drivers of tumorigenesis. Moreover, the technology enables the isolation of single circulating tumor cells (CTCs) that are present in minimal concentrations in blood. Molecular analysis of the isolated cells allows identification of key cancer drivers, and can help to select the most effective molecular-targeted drug in the clinical research setting.

About the Menarini International Foundation

The Menarini International Foundation was founded in the spring of 1976 to promote research and knowledge in the fields of biology, pharmacology and medicine, as well as economy and human sciences. One of the main instruments the Foundation uses to achieve its goals is the organization of international congresses that focus on the medical disciplines. The Foundation has organized more than 300 international conferences addressing innovative medical and biological issues and topics of specific interest worldwide.

About Menarini-Silicon Biosystems

Menarini-Silicon Biosystems, based in San Diego, Calif., and Bologna, Italy, develops techno­logies and products that help researchers understand the biological complexity of disease through the study of single cells. The company manufactures and markets the DEPArray Nxt, the only image-based digital cell-sorting and isolation platform that enables clinical researchers to conduct molecular analyses on live or fixed cells with single-cell precision. Thanks to the acquisition of the CELLSEARCH® Circulating Tumor Cell System in 2017, the company now provides an end-to-end workflow solution for the enumeration, isolation, and molecular charac­terization of CTCs from a simple blood test in the clinical research setting. This will help drive the clinical utility and correlation of CTCs with the effectiveness of specific therapies.

The acquisition of the CELLSEARCH product line represents a major milestone that reinforces the company’s strategic direction toward being a leading provider of diagnostic products and services aimed at informing the most optimal therapeutic decisions for patients with cancer. Menarini-Silicon Biosystems is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Menarini Group, a multinational pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostics company headquartered in Florence, Italy, with a heritage of over 130 years and over 16,000 employees in more than 100 countries.

See www.siliconbiosystems.com for more information.

Topics: FFPE, CTCs, Liquid biopsy, International experts, Menarini International Foundation, Precision Medicine, Cancer Heterogeneity, International conference