Lead investigator: U. Margaretha Wallon, PhD
Collaborators: Paul B. Gilman, MD and George C. Prendergast, PhD

Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is a debilitating condition that patients report as the most feared side effects of their cancer treatment. Many patients who receive chemotherapy will not experience nausea, but up to 15 percent of cancer patients who receive one of the highly emetic chemotherapeutic agents will experience debilitating nausea.

At present no predictive biomarker for this condition exists. Such a test could:

  • Improve care and patient experience
  • Reduce or eliminate use of emetics for those patients not at risk
  • Influence insurance coverage for prophylactic management with the more expensive but powerful anti-emetic drugs
  • Reduce drop-outs or reductions from recommended therapy
  • Reduce hospitalization events due to acute nausea

In addressing this condition, LIMR scientists have developed a blood-based assay, termed the MyNauseaRisk test, that reliably predicts which cancer patients will experience nausea after chemotherapy, even before it is administered.

Technology description

LIMR’s technology exploits a natural variation in red blood cell thiol redox capacity in the human population that our scientists discovered using a novel assay for measuring thiol redox stress in cells. As configured, the MyNauseaRisk test is a mix-and-read blood test for glutathione recycling capacity suitable for use in most hospital clinical laboratories.

Initial studies validated the test’s ability to predict risks of delayed nausea in patients receiving platinum drug therapy. An initial study of 64 patients at Lankenau Medical Center showed that the MyNauseaRisk test classified with almost 90 percent accuracy patients’ nausea sensitivity. A second group of 97 patients confirmed the accuracy of the test.

To date, cases of lung and colorectal cancers have been studied. Present work focuses on developing recent findings that the test can predict nausea to additional pro-emetic drugs, including anthacyclines, paclitaxel and docetaxel, all of which are widely used in the oncology clinic.

Business opportunity

Each year about 650,000 U.S. patients diagnosed with cancer receive chemotherapy in an outpatient oncology clinic, with CINV occurring in up to 15 percent of those patients.

Intellectual property position

MyNauseaRisk test kit: U.S. Patent No. 9,766,226 (issued 19 Sept 2017).

Relevant publication

Kutner T, Kunkel E, Wang Y, George K, Zeger EL, Ali ZA, Prendergast GC, Gilman PB and Wallon UM. (2017). Preliminary evaluation of a predictive blood assay to identify patients at high risk of chemotherapy-induced nausea. Support Care Cancer 25: 581-87.