MIT Discovery Advances Cancer Diagnostics

A new diagnostic approach technology can predict how patients will respond to hundreds of different drugs or drug combinations before the patients even take the drugs.

This advance has lead to the formation of Travera a Cambridge MA based startup to commercialize this advance. The firm’s new measurement tool, the Suspended Microchannel Resonator (SMR), reveals cancer cells’ responses to effective drugs faster than ever before. Travera tests drugs, to maximize drug quality and effectiveness for patients and to save them from unnecessary toxicity.

By doing so, Travera can pinpoint the right drugs within <2 days, even though it will take many weeks to work in the patient’s body, and thus, is moving oncology from being <20% personalized to >90% personalized, guiding the patient to cost-effective treatments that will help them in the now.

This breakthrough measurement tool, invented at MIT, can measure the tiny growth response of single live cancer cells to cancer drugs.

The SMR is a breakthrough measurement tool, invented at MIT, which can measure the tiny growth response of single live cancer cells to cancer drugs.


The SMR test is so uniquely sensitive that it can weigh single cells with precision to 1 part in 10,000 (~50 femtograms), which is 10-100x better than any other singe-cell-measurement tool. By collecting about 1,000 live cancer cells (per drug tested) from a patient, this tool can measure the tiny changes made by a cancer drug, in a lab, within a few hours, to predict the success of the cancer drug’s response in its patient, which would normally take weeks or months. Instead of killing and counting dead cells, they measure the growth response of healthy live cancer cells to drugs because live cancer cells change faster, but by only a few picograms, and are too small a measurement for any of the other existing tools, except the SMR. So, if growth response is small, the cancer drug is effective by reducing growth.

It is a multi-drug companion diagnostic, changing personalized patient treatment. It measures in all-inclusive biomarkers (VUSs, epigenomics, mRNAs,…), so it can personalize hundreds of drugs across dozens of cancers. It is a therapy-indicating biomarker for patients with no biomarkers.

The company is now seeking financing to test the SMR across the different cancers and solid tumors, as wells as, launching a prototype commercial instrument and kit. For additional information on the project contact

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