2014 Archived Content

Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s Eighth Annual

Cancer Molecular Markers

Guiding Cancer Management

February 10-12, 2014 | Moscone North Convention Center | San Francisco, CA


The availability of validated cancer biomarkers for the diagnosis of cancer remains limited. Various types of biomarkers will be evaluated, then compared and contrasted for their use. Epigenetic, exosome, EMT, cell-free DNA, and circulating tumor cells will be examined for profiling, characterization, and precise diagnosis of cancer. Each one will be considered for the ultimate test: the ability to validate it forclinical use.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Download Brochure 

Wednesday, February 12

7:00 am Breakfast Presentation (Sponsorship Opportunity Available) or Morning Coffee

8:00 Plenary Keynote Session (Click Here For More Details) 

9:45 Refreshment Break and Poster Competition Winner Announced in the Exhibit Hall


10:35 Chairperson’s Remarks

Michelle M. Hanna, Ph.D., CEO & Scientific Director, RiboMed Biotechnologies, Inc.

10:40 Identification of Genome-Wide Methylated CpG Island Profiles of Coding, Non-Coding and Repeated Regions as Molecular Markers for Human Melanomas

Ranjan J. Perera, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Scientific Director, Genomics and Bioinformatics, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

We have identified genome-wide methylated CpG island distributions by subjecting melanoma genomic DNA to methyl binding domain 2 (MBD2) pull-down and NGS. CpG islands in the upstream regulatory regions of many coding and non-coding RNA genes exhibit extensive hypermethylation, whereas several repeated elements, such as LINE 2, and several LTR elements, are hypomethylated in advanced stage melanoma cell lines. Focused assays of melanoma patient tissue samples for CpG island methylation near the noncoding RNA genes demonstrated high specificity.

11:10 miRNA Biomarkers for Colorectal Neoplasia

Ajay Goel, Ph.D., Director, Epigenetics and Cancer Prevention, Baylor Research Institute

MicroRNAs (or miRNAs) are small transcripts of 20-24 nucleotides that have emerged as important regulators of gene expression in cancer cells. Overexpression of specific miRNAs has been linked to the stepwise disease progression during the normal-adenoma-cancer sequence in the colorectal cancer (CRC). Given their cancer-specific pattern of expression, remarkable stability and presence in blood and other body fluids, miRNAs are considered to be highly promising cancer biomarkers.

11:40 PANEL DISCUSSION: Developing and Commercializing Epigenetic Diagnostics


Perry Dimas, VP, Business Development, Premier Source Diagnostics


Michelle M. Hanna, Ph.D., CEO & Scientific Director, RiboMed Biotechnologies, Inc.

Noel Doheny, CEO, Epigenomics, Inc.

Babak Alizadeh, Ph.D., Co-founder & COO, PrognosDx Health, Inc.

Additional Panelist to be Announced

Epigenetic marks, such as DNA methylation and histone modifications, comprise part of the epigenetic machinery leading to abnormal gene expression and chromatin instability in disease. Epigenetic changes, particularly in human cancers, are now being considered as novel biological markers for diagnostic and therapeutic utility. This panel will discuss current challenges in developing and commercializing epigenetic diagnostics by addressing three specific areas of concern:

  • DNA Methylation as Viable Biomarkers
  • Validation of Assay and Technologies
  • CPT Coding and Reimbursement Challenges

12:10 pm Session Break

12:40 Luncheon Presentations (Sponsorship Opportunities Available) or Lunch on Your Own

1:40 Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


1:40 Chairperson’s Remarks

Jane Emerson, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Pathology, University of Southern California

1:45 Biospecimen Quality Appraisal at a Cancer Tissue Bank

Teri A. Longacre, M.D., Professor of Pathology; Director, Tissue, Procurement Facility, Stanford Cancer Center

Quality control of biospecimen banking in a high volume academic cancer center requires a dedicated anatomic pathologist with specific expertise in tumor pathology. Methods to ensure high quality biospecimen banking, storage, and distribution based on best practices and evidence-based standards are presented.

2:15 Quantification of HER2 Heterogeneity in Patient Samples

Elena Geretti, Ph.D., Senior Scientists, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals

The currently FDA-approved methods for HER2 quantification are not able to give a quantitative measure of HER2 heterogeneity of expression. We have developed a novel immunofluorescence assay to quantify HER2 on FFPE samples. Coupled with automated image analysis, our assay is able to quantify HER2 expression at the single cell level, and may constitute a means to understand the predictive and/or prognostic role of the heterogeneity of HER2 expression for patient response to HER2-targeted therapies.

2:45 Sample Type Bias in the Analysis of Cancer Genomes: How Admixed Normal Cells, Intratumoral Heterogeneity, and ex vivo Growth Impact Cancer Genomic Analyses

David Solomon, M.D., Ph.D., Anatomic Pathology, PGY-2, University of California, San Francisco

Techniques have emerged which now allow us to interrogate the entire genome of human cancers and to define the genetic alterations that drive tumorigenesis. When performing these genomic analyses, it is important to understand the impact that admixed normal cells, intratumoral heterogeneity, and ex vivo growth can have on the results. This talk will discuss these issues and highlight one study comparing genomic analyses performed on glioblastoma tumor samples of differing types (primary tumors, primary xenografts, primary cultures, and established cell lines).

3:15 Detection and Characterization of Viable Circulating Tumor Cells

Catherine Alix-Panabières, Ph.D., Maître de Conférence, Praticien Hospitalier, Associate Professor, Director, Laboratory of Rare Human Circulating Cells, Institute of Research in Biotherapy, Saint-Eloi Hospital, University Medical Centre of Montpellier

The enumeration and characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the peripheral blood and disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in bone marrow may provide important prognostic information and might help to monitor efficacy of therapy. Since current assays cannot distinguish between apoptotic and viable DTCs/CTCs, it is now possible to apply a novel ELISPOT assay (designated ‘EPISPOT’) that detects proteins secreted/released/shed from single epithelial cancer cells.

3:45 Refreshment Break


4:00 Chairperson’s Remarks

Daniel W. Chan, Ph.D., DABCC, FACB, Professor, Pathology, Oncology, Radiology and Urology; Director, Center for Biomarker Discovery and Translation & Clinical Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University


Key to Success in Translating Cancer Biomarkers to the Clinical Laboratory

Daniel W. Chan, Ph.D., DABCC, FACB, Professor, Pathology, Oncology, Radiology and Urology; Director, Center for Biomarker Discovery and Translation & Clinical Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University

Specific examples will be shown to demonstrate the opportunities and challenges for the development of clinical proteomic diagnostics. The successful translation of these biomarkers into clinical practice will require close collaboration between researcher, industry, regulatory agency and clinician.

4:35 Advanced Machine Learning Techniques Reveal Molecular Correlates of Tumor Histopathology in GBM and Low Grade Glioma 

Bahram Parvin, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Life Sciences, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 

The case study includes Glioblastoma Multiform from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), where four subtypes were identified from computed morphometric indices, and a subset of these subtypes are shown to be predictive of the outcome. In each case, molecular correlates are able to provide hypotheses for therapeutic targeting.

5:05 Clinical Evaluation of Exosomes as Oncology Biomarkers

Shidong Jia, Ph.D., Scientist, Oncology Biomarker Development, Genentech, Inc.

Dr. Jia’s lab has developed working procedures to evaluate exosomal RNA signature as novel biomarkers for cancer prognosis, prediction and patient stratification. In particular, their work has refreshed current practice and demonstrated a new approach for studying RNA signature in patient blood samples.

5:35 Close of Conference Program

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