Exscientia today announced the initiation of EXCYTE-1, a prospective observational study in ovarian cancer to investigate the relationship between ex vivo drug response (EVDR) in primary tumour-derived samples using the company’s precision medicine platform and actual patient clinical response. This first of its kind observational study in solid tumours will run at multiple medical research centres in Europe with a focus on ovarian cancers. It aims to inform and enable future studies in other solid tumours.

Ovarian cancer represents a high unmet need for predicting patient response to diverse therapy options. The study will be conducted in collaboration with the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Gynäkologische Onkologie (AGO) Study Group, one of the leading non-profit clinical research networks in gynaeco-oncology worldwide.

“We are thrilled to work with Exscientia to advance the state of science and potential treatment of ovarian cancer patients,” said Professor Philipp Harter M.D., Ph.D., Head of Gynaecology and Gynaeco-Oncology at Evangelische Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Germany, and Chair of the AGO Study Group. “This study will enable us to explore new ways to identify the right treatment for individual patients, especially in cases with no available molecular biomarkers. We look forward to being a part of this important scientific evaluation.”

By combining high-content imaging of samples and deep learning image analysis, the company’s AI-based precision medicine platform leverages a patient’s biopsies to assess drug activity at a single cell level ex vivo. The EXCYTE-1 trial follows the prospective EXALT-1 trial in haematologic malignancies, the first study to leverage AI-driven ex vivo drug testing to guide treatment selection and improve outcomes in patients with advanced haematological cancers. Patients who received drugs prioritised by the platform experienced significantly better outcomes, with 54% of patients demonstrating clinical benefit of >1.3-fold enhanced progression free survival (PFS) compared to prior therapy. The EXCYTE-1 trial is designed to expand the scope of Exscientia’s precision medicine platform in solid tumours.

“The outcomes from this study could have broad implications for how we evaluate drug candidates and support clinical practice in the future,” said Dr. Nikolaus Krall, EVP of Precision Medicine at Exscientia. “If established, a robust correlation between our platform’s results and clinical outcomes will support the greater use of human tumour samples in the preclinical development of new drug candidates and translational cancer research. This has the potential to overcome the limited clinical relevance of mouse and other animal models that are presently used. In addition, this study may further pave the way for the use of functional drug testing to guide treatment selection to achieve better patient outcomes.”