Cascade: A step up on cancer pathology

Even as the quality and availability of cancer treatments have advanced in recent years, much of cancer diagnosis has remained in technological limbo. Scanning techniques like MRI and CT have eliminated the need for many exploratory surgeries, but specific diagnosis, including initial assessment and tumor staging, still largely depends on the subjective (albeit expert) opinion of a pathologist looking at cells through a microscope. And while a limited number of new testing procedures have come on-line, such as the PSA marker test to screen for prostate cancer, the field of cancer diagnostics remains open to newer and more definitive techniques.

Cascade Oncogenics Inc. (Portland, Ore.) is developing tests that rely on the chemical indicators of the disruption in cell division that is characteristic of all cancers. Working from an initial focus on malignant breast tumors, the company plans to develop objective assays that will supplement traditional pathological examinations.