Allina Health Cancer Institute begins first-of-its-kind clinical trial to revolutionize cancer treatment and diagnosis

Researchers are using AI technology to pinpoint cancer cells and learn how they work

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Oct. 30, 2023) — Allina Health Cancer Institute is collaborating with St. Paul-based Astrin Biosciences for a first-of-its-kind clinical trial using artificial intelligence (AI) and a simple blood draw to revolutionize how cancer is diagnosed and treated. Researchers are currently recruiting 50 breast cancer patients for the first phase of the trial. Patients wishing to join the clinical trial can call 612-863-8716 or send a message through this website link.

“Participating in this study helps cancer patients of the future across the globe,” said Badrinath Konety, MD, president, Allina Health Cancer Institute and chief medical officer, Astrin Biosciences. “This could lead to earlier diagnosis and better understanding of the specific characteristics of the cancer cells, which means more precise treatment.”

Here’s how it works: scientists use blood collected from a simple blood draw and run it through a machine. Using AI technology, they are able to create a 3D holographic image of the cells, identify the cancer cells and separate them from the healthy ones. The isolated cancer cells are characterized to better understand their nature and to guide treatment.

“We know cancer cells spread before they can ever be detected through tools such as mammograms. These cells are on the move throughout the body, but they carry the signature of the original tumor. Our technology helps us to identify those early signs,” said Jayant Parthasarathy, PhD, founder and CEO, Astrin Biosciences.

Isolating the cancer cells allows researchers to study them and understand how they survive, thrive and spread. If the cancer cells are dormant, they can work to determine how to keep them that way, so they don’t trigger another round of cancer decades later.

“As a cancer survivor, this research and what it could become is incredible,” said Sarah Pederson, clinical research director, Allina Health Cancer Institute. Like Pederson, many of the people working on this trial have been personally impacted by cancer in some way including the family of the CEO of Astrin Biosciences.­­ Phase one of the trial began in October 2023 and will consist solely of breast cancer patients who have not started neoadjuvant treatment yet. The second phase is expected to begin in 2024 and will include other types of cancer patients, including lung, brain, kidney and prostate.

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A nonprofit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospital campuses, 14 retail pharmacies, and many specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Astrin Biosciences

At Astrin Biosciences, we know that to win the fight against cancer, we must think big and act boldly. It is with this pioneering spirit that we developed a breakthrough deep learning-empowered platform to detect early harbingers of cancer and reveal their vulnerabilities.