Together with several European partners, Agendia Inc, Irvine, Calif, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has received a $6.8 million European Commission grant to study targeted therapies for colorectal cancer (CRC). The grantees will test therapies matched to the molecular subtype of each patient’s tumor, to see if they are more effective than current therapies not keyed to a tumor’s subtype.

The full title of the project, “Molecularly Guided Trials with Specific Treatment Strategies in Patients with Advanced Newly Molecular Defined Subtypes of Colorectal Cancer,” is being referenced as “MoTriColor.”

The 4-year project will perform phase II studies across Europe for the treatment of molecular subgroups of CRC patients with advanced disease. Agendia’s technology will be used to determine the molecular subtypes of the cancers studied.

“This grant recognizes the value of Agendia’s ability to identify the molecular subtypes that are a central part of precision medicine to treat cancer,” says Mark R. Straley, Agendia CEO.

Agendia develops and markets genomic diagnostic products for use on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded biopsy specimens, helping to support physicians with their complex treatment decisions. The company’s breast cancer and colorectal cancer tests were developed using an unbiased gene selection by analyzing the complete human genome.

“Our technology has already demonstrated the value of this approach for breast cancer,” says René Bernards, PhD, Agendia cofounder and chief scientific officer. “The MoTriColor study is expected to show that a similar therapeutic strategy can benefit colon cancer patients.”

Like breast cancer, CRC is increasingly seen not as a single disease but as a group of diseases with distinct molecular subtypes. The MoTriColor research is particularly aimed at CRC patients with a poor prognosis. Roughly 40% to 50% of these patients worldwide—including about 40,000 European patients—have one of the three molecular subtypes matched to targeted therapies in the MoTriColor project, and thus could benefit from the study’s results.

Agendia collaborates with pharmaceutical companies, leading cancer centers, and academic groups to develop companion diagnostic tests in the area of oncology. The company’s products include the FDA-cleared MammaPrint breast cancer recurrence assay; ColoPrint, a risk stratification assay for colon cancer; BluePrint, a molecular subtyping assay for breast cancer; and TargetPrint, a breast cancer ER/PR/HER2 expression assay. In addition, Agendia has a pipeline of other genomic products in development.

Including Agendia, the MoTriColor project encompasses 10 institutions in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. Two major pharmaceutical companies are expected to support the research.

For more information, visit Agendia.