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SmartPractice funds development of TGen ‘liquid biopsy’ tests

Study to evaluate if breast cancer patients may benefit from TGen non-invasive diagnostic technology

PHOENIX, Ariz. — July 24, 2018 — SmartPractice, a healthcare marketing and supplies firm, announced today that it has donated another $50,000 to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) toward quicker and more accurate monitoring of breast cancer.

Early detection of breast cancer — and identifying the precise type of breast cancer — is essential to effectively treat the disease and give patients the best chance of recovery. In addition, it holds the promise of providing some early-stage breast cancer patients with a way to manage their disease without surgery.

Today’s donation brings to $175,000 the total amount SmartPractice has contributed since 2015 towards TGen’s development of a “liquid biopsy,” a simple blood test that allows continuous non-invasive monitoring of the disease during treatment and provides early warning of the cancer’s progression.

Specifically, this most recent donation by SmartPractice will help analyze blood samples from a clinical trial at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus to help evaluate if more breast cancer patients may benefit from TGen’s technology.

“We are so excited to witness the progress that TGen is making toward a simple blood test that can provide a wealth of information about cancer patients to their treating physicians,” said Dr. Curt Hamann, CEO of SmartPractice.

Dr. Muhammed Murtaza, Co-Director of TGen's Center for Noninvasive Diagnostics, is using fragments of DNA, called circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), which are shed by tumors and circulate in the blood stream of patients. These provide genetic markers that could help determine the precise nature of each patient's tumor.

"For each patient, we analyze their tumor samples to develop a personalized diagnostic test that can precisely identify the disease," said Dr. Murtaza. "If we are successful in demonstrating that their disease can be accurately detected, using ctDNA, it could lead to expanded clinical trials and national funding to validate our findings and develop the next generation of precision-medicine treatment for early-stage breast cancer."

The challenge is that ctDNA dissipates quickly in the bloodstream. Using a TGen-developed technology — Targeted Digital Sequencing, or TARDIS — Dr. Murtaza aims to ever more precisely capture and measure ctDNA and use that information to help treat patients. This also has the potential to provide treatment of early-stage breast cancer without surgery.

Dr. Murtaza is working on this breast cancer study together with Dr. Barbara Pockaj, a surgical oncologist and researcher at Mayo Clinic.

"By supporting this remarkable research happening at TGen, we at SmartPractice believe we can help make a difference in the lives of breast cancer patients," said Michelle Shaw, Vice President of Human Resources at SmartPractice.

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About TGen
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes, and infectious diseases, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit).  TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and cancer and diabetes treatment center: www.cityofhope.org. This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.

About SmartPractice
SmartPractice® is a family-owned, Phoenix-based firm that has partnered with dental and healthcare professionals worldwide for 50 years to improve the health of both their practices and patients. A portion of the proceeds of their innovative line of Pink Ribbon exam gloves and breast cancer awareness supplies generates a donation to fund breast cancer research and awareness programs. To learn more, please visit smartpractice.com/pinkribbon.

Media Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
602-343-8704
[email protected]


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