OncoMed and Fluidigm have formed a strategic collaboration for a new initiative to apply Fluidigm’s microfluidic tools to the analysis of tumor cell heterogeneity, including cancer stem cells.

The collaboration will combine Fluidigm’s microfluidic platforms with OncoMed’s proprietary cancer stem cell sorting technology to generate tools for analyzing, quantifying and developing treatments directed at a highly tumorigenic cell population.

In the initial application, OncoMed will apply Fluidigm’s BioMark System along with proprietary array integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs) to perform detailed gene expression analysis of solid tumors at the whole tumor and single-cell level.

The phase will track changes in cancer stem cells found in human tumors following treatment with OncoMed’s pipeline of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.

The companies will apply the same technology to analyze tumor heterogeneity and cancer stem cell frequency across OncoMed’s proprietary human tumor bank, which includes approximately 100 human tumor biopsies that have been engrafted and minimally passaged in immunocompromised mice.

The collaboration also has the potential to include microfluidic and tissue sample-preparation technologies that Fluidigm is currently developing, said the companies.

Paul Hastings, president and chief executive officer of OncoMed, said: “We are excited to be working with Fluidigm, a major player in microfluidic technology, to enable the single-cell analysis of cancer stem cells as a tool for identifying unique drug targets.

“This technology has broad applications, including the ability to assess the safety and efficacy of therapeutic antibodies that have been generated to eradicate these important cells which fuel the growth and proliferation of solid tumors.”