BALTIMORE—Capsulomics Inc., a molecular diagnostics company whose mission is to detect and prevent cancer through earlier detection, recently announced a research partnership with Johns Hopkins University, funded by a five-year, $3.7-million National Institutes of Health (NIH) Academic-Industrial Partnership grant. The aim is to conduct a clinical research study to detect esophageal cancer and its precancerous precursor condition, Barrett’s esophagus (BE).
“The collaboration of these two organizations to develop this strategy to potentially impact so many lives is very exciting,” said Dr. John E. Niederhuber, a Capsulomics advisor and former director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute. “Sadly, most cancer deaths today are due to delayed diagnosis, a dilemma that both Capsulomics and Johns Hopkins are attacking head-on.”
The American College of Gastroenterology’s practice guidelines recommend preventive screening for approximately 18 million U.S. patients with chronic acid reflux; however, less than 10 percent of these patients currently undergo routine cancer screening. As a result, only 8 percent of patients are diagnosed early, when cancer can be effectively treated or prevented—resulting in a life expectancy of less than five years in 80 percent of patients.
This bleak situation, according to Capsulomics, is a result of the high cost and limited availability of the only available cancer detection method, upper endoscopy. Accordingly, endoscopy is rarely undertaken before symptoms are present, often too late for life-saving intervention. Capsulomics seeks to bring a proactive market solution that is much cheaper and less invasive, allowing administration in any doctor’s office rather than requiring an endoscopy suite or operating room.
“Johns Hopkins University is a global leader in the research and development of cancer diagnostics,” commented Daniel Lunz, CEO at Capsulomics. “This multisite study is a major step toward bringing a low-cost, less-invasive, proactive test to market to allow earlier detection and more life-saving measures.”
With more than $40 million already previously invested in research and development, this technology has shown promise to solve the deadly problem of reactive cancer detection, as well as to predict which patients are at greatest risk for disease progression. The new research grant brings total current funding of clinical validation and utility studies on this early detection technology to $7.3 million, with Capsulomics targeting late 2020 for their first product launch.