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Cutting Edge Conversations - Biomarkers: Challenges and Opportunities

Small Scientist on December 16, 2021



On December 14th, Scientist.com hosted speakers from Eurofins Genomics, Lanterne Dx, and Owlstone Medical for the last episode of the 2021 Cutting Edge Conversations Series. This episode focused on the challenges and innovations in Biomarker research. The event began with an introduction from Scientist.com’s subject matter expert, Matt McLoughlin, Sr. VP of Compliance & Categories. McLoughlin provided a brief overview and history of biomarkers, discussed the importance of biomarkers to the future of drug development and introduced some of the current challenges that researchers face regarding as they use biomarkers to develop new treatments for patients.


The first presenter was Morad K. Nakhleh from Owlstone Medical

With a first degree in Emergency medicine, master’s degree in medical sciences and PhD in Nano-biotechnology, Morad Nakhleh has over 11 years of experience in biomarker discovery and exhaled breath analysis. Before joining the Owlstone team, Morad investigated the origins and biochemistry of VOCs, mainly in respiratory diseases. His current role as head commercial biomarker strategist at Owlstone Medical consists of supporting the development of scientific and technical solutions, based on exhaled VOCs analysis, for clinical applications.

During his presentation, Nakhleh discussed Owlstone’s main focus on Exhaled Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and how these compounds hold the potential to be effective non-invasive biomarkers for diagnostics and precision medicine. He introduced the wide range of clinical applications that exhaled VOCs could fit into: as noninvasive diagnostic biomarkers, for early detection and screening, as companion biomarkers for personalized medicine, exhaled breath testing which offers safe and easy to use point of care and home testing applications, monitoring of occupational exposure levels to hazardous substances, as well as a valuable research tool for mechanism of action and dynamics/ kinetics of drugs assessment. To facilitate this, Owlstone Medical developed and commercialized Breath Biopsy® Products and Services for the reliable collection and analysis of volatile organic compound (VOC) biomarkers on breath. They lead the world’s largest breath based clinical trials and have established the first high volume breath analysis lab with ISO 9001 certification and a rigorous system of quality checks at every stage of the workflow. They also have a Breath Biopsy OMNI service for pharmaceutical and academic customers which provides a complete solution for global VOC analysis with high-confidence identification and validation of non-invasive biomarkers to support drug and diagnostics development programs.


Next was Bhavika Patel, from LanterneDx

Bhavika Patel attended the University of Illinois where she received her BS in Psychology with a minor in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chemistry. She later completed her PhD in Neuroscience from Iowa State University. Currently, Patel is a scientist at LanterneDx and has experience with immunohistochemistry, fluorescent microscopy including multiplex imaging, and digital image analysis using various platforms.

During her presentation, Patel spoke about the benefits of multiplex immunofluorescence and how it can be used to better understand the tumor microenvironment in an effort to develop new strategies for immuno-oncology. Biomarkers that detect the tumor and tumor microenvironment play a crucial role in developing treatments aimed at enhancing a patient’s immune system. Patel then went on to discuss LanterneDx’s collaboration with Akoya Biosciences and their use of the MOTiF™ PD-1/PD-L1 Panel kit in multiple tissue types.


Lastly, Natalie Smith from Eurofins Genomics

Natalie Smith, Senior Pharma and Translational genomics Manager, has 18+ years of experience in managing technical projects with large international scientific companies specializing in pharmacogenomics, bioinformatics, pharmaceutical drug release and genomics technologies. She has several technical certifications with Waters LC/MS, HPLC and Agilent GC/MS and FDA pharmacology and toxicology licensing. Smith previously worked for Eurofins Scientific in the U.S. and is now U.K. based where she works for the European division called Eurofins Genomics.

During her presentation, Smith went on to discuss the integrated genomics universe: from biomarker discovery to biomarkers within clinical trials. She also presented on how a single company expert in Genomics can discover and validate biomarkers with large portfolio and up to date technologies. This can help save time, money, and makes for a more efficient process by not having to coordinate with many suppliers. Some other topics of her presentation include: Genomics technologies for research and discovery, technologies for research and clinical trials, and an introduction to genomic biomarker services.


Learn more about the innovations and services offered by Owlstone Medical, LanterneDx, and Eurofins Genomics from the webinar recording.