PALTOWN and Natera team up to launch COLONTOWN University

CROWNSVILLE, MD, October 1, 2020– PALTOWN Development Foundation today announced its partnership with Natera, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTRA), a pioneer and global leader in cell-free DNA testing, on the launch of COLONTOWN University (CTU), the first of its kind online learning center for over 5,300 Colorectal Cancer (CRC) patients and caregivers.

COLONTOWN University is a secure online platform that hosts training and educational resources developed by PALTOWN Development Foundation and its partners. The site is launching a suite of learning centers including the latest scientific research, clinical data, and actionable resources about newer diagnostic/surveillance tests for CRC patients. CTU will offer a Diagnostic and Surveillance Testing Center and a Clinical Trials Center, which provide interactive features and structured content across a range of media.  As part of the initiative, Natera will provide educational resources to CTU students, (CRC patients and caregivers), for its Signatera™ test, the company’s circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) test that is custom-built for each patient based on the unique mutations in an individual patient’s tumor. The assay addresses treatment monitoring and molecular residual disease (MRD) assessment in patients previously diagnosed with cancer.  A recent study published in Nature Cancer showed that Signatera can be used to evaluate tumor response to immunotherapy in 25 different types of solid cancer.

“We are delighted to partner with PALTOWN Development Foundation on this innovative model for delivering patient education and resources to those who need it most,” said Dr. Alexey Aleshin, Sr. Medical Director of Oncology at Natera. “Signatera offers a highly personalized, tumor-informed approach for ctDNA detection and recurrence monitoring that we believe will transform cancer care for both patients and providers.”

“By giving patients the tools to understand their unique mutations and testing options, Colontown University has the potential to help thousands of CRC patients,”  according to Nancy Seybold, COO of PALTOWN Development Foundation. “We are excited to work with Natera to bring these resources directly to patients and their families and to empower them to get the answers they need to manage their disease and make informed decisions about their treatment.”

Specifically, patients in the Learning Center can learn from Natera and other CTU partners what testing might be appropriate for them, how each option might contribute to treatment decisions, and how insurance and patient assistance programs will affect out-of-pocket costs.

COLONTOWN UNIVERSITY supports over 5,300 patients and caregivers in its exclusive online community COLONTOWN, as well as the broader CRC community. COLONTOWN pioneered a unique model of patient-led empowerment, with over 120 private “neighborhoods” for patients and caregivers to gain the emotional and psychosocial support they need, as well as the latest science-based data to inform their care and treatment. COLONTOWN, founded in 2002 by Erika Hanson Brown, a stage III CRC patient, is the first patient-powered disease specific community under the umbrella of the Paltown Development Foundation, a 501(c)3 dedicated to addressing information needs and social isolation through training, technology, and purpose-driven community leadership. The PALTOWN Development Foundation is committed to expanding its unique model of online peer-to-peer health communities to provide hope and empowerment to patient leaders in the CRC space and across other disease states.

About Signatera
Signatera is a custom-built circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) test for treatment monitoring and molecular residual disease (MRD) assessment in patients previously diagnosed with cancer. The test is available for clinical and research use, and in 2019, it was granted Breakthrough Device Designation by the FDA. The Signatera test is personalized and tumor-informed, providing each individual with a customized blood test tailored to fit the unique signature of clonal mutations found in that individual’s tumor. This maximizes accuracy for detecting the presence or absence of residual disease in a blood sample, even at levels down to a single tumor molecule in a tube of blood. Unlike a standard liquid biopsy, Signatera is not intended to match patients with any particular therapy; rather, it is intended to detect and quantify how much cancer is left in the body, to detect recurrence earlier and to help optimize treatment decisions. Signatera test performance has been clinically validated in multiple cancer types including colorectal, non-small cell lung, breast, and bladder cancers. Signatera has been developed and its performance characteristics determined by Natera, the CLIA-certified laboratory performing the test. The test has not been cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). CAP accredited, ISO 13485 certified, and CLIA certified.

About Natera
Natera is a pioneer and global leader in cell-free DNA testing. The mission of the company is to change the management of disease worldwide with a focus on women’s health, oncology, and organ health. Natera operates ISO 13485-certified and CAP-accredited labs certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) in San Carlos, California, and Austin, Texas. It offers proprietary genetic testing services to inform obstetricians, transplant physicians, oncologists, and cancer researchers, including biopharmaceutical companies, and genetic laboratories through its cloud-based software platform. For more information, visit Follow Natera on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Susan Wysoki, Interim Executive Director, PALTOWN 

Paul Greenland, VP of Corporate Marketing at Natera