Caris Life Sciences partnering with Merus to detect neuregulin 1 (NRG1) fusions in cancer patients

Returning guest, Dr. David Spetzler, President and Chief Scientific Officer at Caris® Life Sciences discusses partnering with Merus, a clinical-stage oncology company, to detect neuregulin 1 (NRG1) fusions in cancer patients using Caris’ whole exome and whole transcriptome sequencing. The goal of this collaboration is to use Caris’ extensive suite of breakthrough next-generation sequencing technology to identify patients who may be eligible for Merus’ bispecific antibody Zenocutuzumab (“Zeno”) Phase 1/2 eNRGy trial and Early Access Program.

David Spetzler, MS, PhD, MBA, President and Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Spetzler joined Caris Life Sciences® in August of 2009, and has held several management positions with increasing responsibilities during his tenure. He leads the company’s clinical testing service and development of proprietary technologies to aid in the creation of precision medicine strategies for individual cancer patients and noninvasive technologies to identify and predict early stage cancer. Using Caris Molecular Intelligence®, ADAPT Biotargeting System™, and DEAN™, an advanced AI platform focused on nonlinear feature selection to identify new biological signatures to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment selection, Dr. Spetzler has generated more than 330 patent applications across 37 different patent families and authored 31 peer-reviewed journal articles. He is an innovator in molecular science with a relentless focus on improving patient care through an unwavering commitment to the highest quality, fastest turn-around-time, and greatest scientific rigor to fulfill the promise of precision medicine. He has led the development of the company’s exclusive and unique technology, ADAPT, which is able to measure thousands of protein aberrations and is being used to develop early cancer detection assays, discover novel drug targets, and characterize protein differences in each patient’s tumor. During his tenure, Caris has amassed molecular data on 158,000+ patients and clinical outcomes on 20,000 patients since the launch of its molecular profiling service in 2009. He oversaw the design, development, validation, and commercial launch of a 592-gene DNA panel in 2015, and recently launched whole transcriptome sequencing (WTS), which builds upon Caris’ expertise in advanced diagnostic testing and molecular insights to gain insight into the RNA profiles of patient tumors. It enables highly sensitive detection of gene fusions, RNA splice variants, and gene expression analysis all from one streamlined test. Dr. Spetzler led the development of the company’s proprietary AI platform (DEAN) to create and validate dozens of machine learning signatures, called Next Generation Profiling™ (NGP), thus providing the most in-depth and exclusive analysis and interpretation using the most comprehensive suite of clinical offerings available to cancer patients today. The Company is preparing to launch and continues to develop dozens of unique proprietary AI DEAN-driven, machine learning signatures unlocked from a decade of testing patients and accumulating outcomes data to improve cancer diagnosis and therapeutic guidance never before seen. This process has been able to molecularly classify cancer into 87 distinct molecular subtypes that refines and improves current diagnostic standards called the Caris Molecular Disease Classifier. This transformational technology has also been applied to the prediction of frontline folfox administration for colon cancer patients with a hazard ratio of 0.31 and frontline administration of immunotherapy in NSCLC patients with a hazard ratio of 0.33. Thus demonstrating the power of this world changing approach to improving patient outcomes using NGP driven precision medicine. Prior to his position at Caris, Dr. Spetzler was a member of the research faculty at Arizona State University where he developed multiplexed nanotechnologies for single molecule detection of nucleic acid and protein targets. He also developed novel methods of using DNA to create biological computers to solve NP-complete optimization problems, and built a novel optical detection system capable of measuring single molecule protein conformational changes with microsecond time resolution. At Arizona State University, Dr. Spetzler earned a M.S. from the School of Mathematical and Statistical Science in Computational Bioscience, a Ph.D. in Molecular Cellular Biology and an MBA. Dr. Spetzler is an adjunct faculty member of the molecular cellular biology program at Arizona State University, and a scientific and commercial reviewer for SBIR/STTR grants for NSF. He and his incredible wife are avid adventurers, from snowboarding in Antarctica to summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and have three wonderful children.

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