Cambridge Healthtech ’s 4th Annual

Enabling Technologies for Circulating Biomarkers

Advancing Technologies for Clinical Utilities

August 20-21, 2019


The technologies in the liquid biopsy field have been maturing rapidly and are on their path to revolutionize the management of cancer patients. However, in the increasingly crowded landscape of all the diagnostic approaches, it can be overwhelming to identify the key technologies that are showing promises and have potential to be implemented in clinical practices. Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s Fourth Annual Enabling Technologies for Circulating Biomarkers conference will bring together experts in the field to validate and uncover promising emerging technologies for liquid biopsy applications that make use of diverse biomarker types such as CTCs, cfDNA, RNA, exosomes and platelets. In addition, we will also emphasize the discussions around the harmonization and standardization of all the testing procedures from pre-analytical, analytical, to post-analytical phases of a diagnostic test process.

Final Agenda

Recommended Short Course*

SC3: Emerging Applications of ctDNA

John Simmons, PhD, Vice President, Translational Medicine, Personal Genome Diagnostics

This short course will cover cutting edge applications and clinical trials that use ctDNA for monitoring, minimal residual disease, and plasma tumor mutation burden. The background basics, the technologies, the clinical evidence out there so far, and the highlights of the prospective designs that are underway will be discussed.

SC9: Liquid Biopsies based on Extracellular Vesicles: Prospects, Challenges, and Opportunities

Joshua T. Smith, PhD, Research Staff Member and Silicon Development Team Leader, Translational Systems Biology and Nanobiotechnology, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) exhibit a number of properties that make them attractive as a rich source of biomarkers for disease diagnosis, treatment monitoring, and therapeutics, including their abundance in a wide breadth of bodily fluids, nucleic acid and protein content, and protective lipid membrane that preserves this cargo from degradation. This course reviews key discoveries in EV research, describes current efforts to exploit their properties to capture market value, and takes a look at exploratory and emerging technologies aimed at accelerating their study and use. Existing gaps in understanding along with current efforts to address these unknowns will also be elucidated.

*Separate registration required.


7:30 am Registration and Morning Coffee


8:30 Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

G. Mike Makrigiorgos, PhD, Professor of Radiation Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School

8:40 KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Precision Medicine Using Liquid Biopsies: A New Paradigm for Managing Cancer Diseases

Steven A. Soper, PhD, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, BioEngineering, KUMC Cancer Center University of Kansas, Lawrence; Director, NIH Biotechnology Resource Center of BioModular Multi-Scale Systems for Precision Medicine

We are generating innovative microfluidic tools for selecting circulating markers from whole blood and determining the presence/absence of disease-specific molecular signatures secured from the liquid biopsy markers to guide therapy for a patient. The microfluidics can process whole blood (≥1 mL) and search for CTCs, cfDNA, or exosomes and make them available for downstream molecular processing. I will talk extensively about our exosome isolation chip, and its use in several clinical examples and securing molecular information from the affinity-selected exosomes. The exosome chip consists of 1.4 million pillars that contain surface-immobilized antibodies directed against antigens from cancer cells that are epithelial based (EpCAM) and those with a mesenchymal phenotype (fibrobast activation protein alpha, FAPα). The chip is operated by a robotic workstation and can perform 32 isolation assays per day per machine in a fully automated fashion.

9:10 Opportunities and Challenges for Liquid Biopsies in the Fight Against Cancer

Anthony Dickherber, PhD, Program Director, Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives, National Cancer Institute

This presentation will address the need for better focus on the clinical decision making support being enabled by liquid biopsy-based assays in the context of new enabling technologies that are shaping the landscape of possibilities. The persistent need for standards development in this field to qualify new assays are a critical components for that, and as promising as ctDNA is we know we can’t throw out consideration of CTCs.

9:40 Multi-Parametric Liquid Biopsy Analysis in Metastatic Prostate Cancer

Amir Goldkorn, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Co-Leader, Translational & Clinical Science Program; Director, Circulating Tumor Cell Research Core, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center & Keck School of Medicine; Chair, Prostate Cancer Organ Site Translational Medicine, SWOG

Multiparametric liquid biopsy profiles were successfully generated for each patient and time point, demonstrating the feasibility of this approach and highlighting shared as well as unique cancer-relevant alterations. With further refinement and validation in large cohorts, multiparametric liquid biopsies can optimally integrate disparate but clinically informative data sets and maximize their utility for molecularly directed, real-time patient management.

10:10 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

10:55 Chairperson’s Remarks

G. Mike Makrigiorgos, PhD, Professor of Radiation Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School

11:00 Multi-Omic Liquid Biopsy Platform

Sam Hanash, MD, PhD, Director, Red & Charline McCombs Institute; Evelyn & Sol Rubenstein Distinguished Chair, Cancer Prevention; Professor, Clinical Cancer Prevention-Research, Translational Molecular Pathology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Multiple technologies are currently being explored for liquid biopsy applications beyond genomics, including proteomics, metabolomics, immunomics and extra-cellular vesicles. The individual and combined contributions of these approaches will be presented.

11:30 Analysis of Therapeutically-Relevant Markers in Circulating Tumor Cells

Shana O. Kelley, PhD, Professor, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Biochemistry, University of Toronto

12:00 pm Presentation to be Announced

12:30 Luncheon Presentation to be Announced

1:00 Cookie & Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


1:30 Chairperson’s Remarks

Steven A. Soper, PhD, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, BioEngineering, KUMC Cancer Center University of Kansas, Lawrence; Director, NIH Biotechnology Resource Center of BioModular Multi-Scale Systems for Precision Medicine

1:35 Targeting CTC Cytoskeletal Alterations to Reduce Metastasis

Stuart Martin, PhD, Professor, Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine

2:05 Isolation of Circulating Tumor Cells in Non-Small-Cell-Lung-Cancer Patients Using a Multi-Flow Microfluidic Channel

Ian Papautsky, PhD, Professor, Bioengineering; Co-Director, NSF Center for Advanced Design & Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics (CADMIM) Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Chicago

Our device is constructed and configured based on the phenomenal effect of size-dependent inertial migration. The recovery rate of >93% has been achieved using spiked cancer cells at clinically relevant concentrations (10 cells per 5 mL and above). We have also successfully detected CTCs from 6 out of 8 non-small-cell-lung-cancer (NSCLC) patients, while none for 5 healthy control subjects. With these results, we envision our approach is a promising alternative for reliable CTC capture, and thus for facilitating the progress of extracting information from CTCs to personalize treatment strategies for solid tumor patients.

2:35 Detection and Analysis of Circulating Epithelial Cells in Liquid Biopsies from Patients with Liver Disease

David Ting, PhD, Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

In this work, we used the iChip platform to detect CECs in patients with CLD but without HCC and to phenotypically discriminate between CECs in patients with and without HCC.

3:05 Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

3:35 Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


4:25 Chairperson’s Remarks

G. Mike Makrigiorgos, PhD, Professor of Radiation Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School

4:30 Novel Digital PCR and Mutation Enrichment Technologies for the Analysis of Clinically Relevant DNA Alterations in Liquid Biopsies

G. Mike Makrigiorgos, PhD, Professor of Radiation Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School

With the increasing interest in treatment assessment using liquid biopsy and circulating DNA, sensitive and multiplexed detection of tumor-derived alterations in blood are desirable. We provide novel forms of digital PCR, as well as mutation enrichment-based real time PCR methods that (a) enable several orders of magnitude improvement of detecting mutations or microsatellite instability than currently possible; (b) are highly multiplex-able; (c) reduce cost of analysis. Application in circulating DNA from clinical cancer samples will be presented.

5:00 Phospho-sRNA-seq Enables Plasma mRNA/lncRNA Transcriptome Profiling as a Liquid Biopsy Approach

Ryan M. Spengler, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Muneesh Tewari Laboratory, Hematology/Oncology, University of Michigan

We present a modified RNA-seq methodology, called phospho-sRNA-seq, which, when combined with a stringent computational pipeline, allows enhanced profiling of extracellular mRNA and lncRNAs in blood plasma. We find that signal comes from transcript fragments that are detected across individuals, and demonstrate dynamic expression patterns consistent with physiological changes in patients. Together, our methods increase access to extracellular transcriptome signatures, providing additional avenues to uncover RNA biomarkers in liquid biopsies.

5:30 Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

6:00 Wine & Cheese Pairing Welcome Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

7:00 Close of Day


7:15 am Registration

7:30 Problem Solving Breakout Discussions with Continental Breakfast


8:25 Chairperson’s Remarks

Hyungsoon Im, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital

8:30 Ultrasensitive Detection of Circulating Exosomes with a 3D-Nanopatterned Microfluidic Chip

Yong Zeng, PhD, Associate Professor and Docking Faculty Scholar, Chemistry, KU Cancer Center, University of Kansas

Here, we show that a microfluidic chip designed with self-assembled three-dimensional herringbone nanopatterns can detect low levels of tumour-associated exosomes in plasma (10 exosomes μl−1, or approximately 200 vesicles per 20 μl of spiked sample) that would otherwise be undetectable by standard microfluidic systems for biosensing. The nanopatterns promote microscale mass transfer, increase surface area and probe density to enhance the efficiency and speed of exosome binding, and permit drainage of the boundary fluid to reduce near-surface hydrodynamic resistance, thus promoting particle–surface interactions for exosome binding.

9:00 AC Electrokinetic Chip Device for Rapid Isolation and Integrated Analysis of Exosome and cf-DNA Biomarkers from Cancer Patient Blood Samples

Michael J. Heller, PhD, Distinguished Scientist, Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Center for Cancer Early Detection and Research (CEDAR); Professor Emeritus, Bioengineering and Nanoengineering, University of California San Diego

New multi-omic approaches for different biomarkers is becoming a viable strategy for liquid biopsy diagnostics and early cancer detection. Electrokinetic sample to answer ACE chip devices were used for the rapid isolation of exosomes, extracellular vesicles (EVs) and cell free (cf) DNA/RNA from cancer patient plasma samples. Subsequent fluorescent detection of cf-DNA levels, immunostaining for specific exosome/EV protein biomarkers and ddPCR/sequencing analysis for point mutations were all carried out.

9:20 Nanoplasmonic Exosome (nPLEX) Technology for Circulating Tumor Exosome Profiling

Hyungsoon Im, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Exosomes have emerged as promising circulating biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis of various cancer types. This presentation will discuss a recent progress of nPLEX (nano-plasmonic exosome) technology that we developed for sensitive detection and molecular profiling of circulating exosomes for ovarian and pancreatic cancers.

9:40 High Precision Isolation and Analysis of Exosomes

Daniel T. Chiu, PhD, A. Bruce Montgomery Professor, Chemistry and Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle

We have recently developed microfluidic and nanofluidic systems for the isolation and analysis of exosomes, offering detailed molecular information with single-exosome resolution. Here, we will describe our technical approach, device performance, and the new information we learned about exosomes as revealed by the new measurements.  

10:00 Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

10:30 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

11:30 Plenary Keynote Session

11:30 Chairperson’s Remarks

Charles Mathews, Principal, ClearView Healthcare Partners






11:40 Plenary Keynote Presentation: FDA Updates: Now and Looking to the Future

Tim Stenzel, MD, PhD, Director, Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Introduction and background of the new Office Director of OIR and updates on precision medicine and other initiatives at the FDA.

12:10-1:05 pm Plenary Keynote Discussion: Proposals and Solutions for Diagnostic Reform Including Oversight of Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs)

Cynthia A. Bens, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Personalized Medicine Coalition





  • How are stakeholders influencing congressional activity on the Verifying Accurate Leading-edge IVCT Development (VALID) Act?
  • How will the VALID Act change the current oversight landscape for diagnostics, including LDTs?
  • How are policymakers addressing the role of CMS and CLIA in the VALID Act?
  • How will increased regulatory and oversight activities at the FDA affect the diagnostics industry?
  • What impact will changes in diagnostics regulation and oversight have on patient care?


Julie Khani, MPA, President, American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA)






Donald E. Horton, Jr., Senior Vice President, Global Government Relations & Public Policy, Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings






Susan Van Meter, Executive Director, AdvaMedDx






1:05 pm Luncheon Presentation (Sponsorship Opportunity Available) or Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

1:35 End of Enabling Technologies for Circulating Biomarkers