Oncor, Inc. news [00549] Medicine On Line

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Oncor, Inc. news

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GAITHERSBURG, Md., Aug. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Oncor, Inc. (AMEX: ONC) 
announced today that investigators at The Johns Hopkins School of 
Medicine, using a recently developed molecular test, have detected 
genetic mutations specific to cancer in blood samples of patients with 
head and neck cancer. Their findings are reported in the September issue 
of Nature Medicine, released today. "Although quite preliminary, these 
findings are interesting, because the presence of DNA alterations in the 
blood appears to be associated with large, advanced tumors and with 
cancer that has spread," says lead author David Sidransky, M.D., 
associate professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery, and 
oncology. Sidransky cautions that the test does not appear useful as a 
screening test for cancer. "But it might be helpful in patient 
management, in identifying patients with a very poor prognosis who may 
benefit from aggressive therapy," he says. Examining disease outcomes, 
the researchers found that 4 out of the 6 patients with positive test 
results subsequently died of their cancer, compared to only 3 of 15 with 
negative test results. The three patients who developed distant 
metastases (disseminated cancer) were in the positive test group, 
further indicating that poor outcome may be associated with the presence 
of serum DNA alterations. These results must be confirmed in much larger 
clinical trials, Sidransky says. Stephen Turner, Oncor's Chairman and 
CEO, said, "A critical problem in cancer patient management today is 
knowing the true state of the disease. This preliminary finding presents 
a potential breakthrough for the management of cancer which could be far 
more cost effective than today's technology. Blood DNA testing could 
potentially be for cancer management what viral load testing is becoming 
to the management of AIDS." Oncor holds a first option to an exclusive, 
worldwide royalty-bearing license for new technology discovered in Dr. 
Sidransky's laboratory in the course of performing research programs in 
lung, bladder, head and neck, and other cancers. The technique used in 
this study is the same as that developed by Sidransky's team to detect 
bladder cancer cells in urine. The test uses a series of DNA markers to 
seek out genetic mutations specific to each patient's cancer. "We 
decided to test serum samples based on evidence from scientists two 
decades ago which pointed to increased levels of serum DNA in cancer 
patients," Sidransky said. "More recent studies suggest that cancer 
cells circulated in the blood may die and release DNA, which is carried 
through the bloodstream by plasma." In an accompanying study in Nature 
Magazine, a team from Switzerland (also co-authors of the Hopkins study) 
found genetic alterations in the blood plasma of over 70 percent of 
patients with small cell lung cancer. The authors speculate that the 
higher presence of alterations may be indicative of a high propensity of 
this cancer to spread. Oncor, Inc. (http://www.oncor.com) develops, 
manufactures and markets gene-based test systems and related products 
for use in the detection and management of cancer and other human 
disease. This press release contains statements of a forward-looking 
nature regarding future events. These statements are only predictions 
and actual events may differ materially. Please refer to documents that 
Oncor, Inc. files from time to time with the Securities and Exchange 
Commission for a discussion of certain factors that could cause actual 
results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking 
statements. SOURCE Oncor, Inc. CO: Oncor, Inc. ST: Maryland IN: HEA MTC 

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