Eager for early detection

Cancer Research UK, CRT, Abcodia to seek biomarkers for early cancer detection

Kelsey Kaustinen
LONDON—Cancer Research UK, its commercial arm Cancer ResearchTechnology (CRT) and biomarker validation company Abcodia have announced acollaboration to develop new blood tests for early detection of a range ofcancers. The goal of the strategic alliance will be to identify biomarkers thatcan enable pre-symptomatic cancer detection, and the partners will concentrateon cancers such as non-small cell lung cancer that currently have few screeningtests available.
 
"We are delighted to be able to work with Cancer Research UKand CRT in this new global venture," Dr. Julie Barnes, CEO of Abcodia, said ina press release. "The early diagnosis of cancer has never been more important,and with the collective expertise that this alliance can bring, we hope to makea real difference in the field of early cancer detection and screening."
 
 
Though genetic and acquired risk factors will also beinvestigated, Cancer Research UK, CRT and Abcodia have a particular interest inbiomarkers that are expressed in serum, such as proteins, microRNAs, exosomes,autoantibodies and DNA methylation.
 
That is where Abcodia comes in. In addition to its expertisein the longitudinal profiling of biomarkers, Abcodia also has the exclusivecommercial rights to a biobank of serum samples. The samples come from morethan 202,600 healthy women who took part in the United Kingdom CollaborativeTrial of Ovarian Cancer Screening between 2001 and 2005, with each volunteerdonating a serum sample on entry. Of those who participated, 27,000 werediagnosed with cancer following recruitment, and 50,000 women have continued tomake serum donations annually for up to 10 years. With more than 5 millionsamples, the biobank is one of the largest prospective collections of serumsamples available for biomarker research in the world. The duration of thesample period, from pre- to post-diagnosis, should provide biomarkers that showthe biological changes that occur in the early stages of cancer. 
 
"I'm delighted that the biobank developed through UKCTOCSwill be used for such an important collaborative venture which has potential toyield important discoveries and to benefit patients through early detectionacross a range of cancers," said Prof. Ian Jacobs, vice president at theUniversity of Manchester, principle investigator of UKCTOCS and one ofAbcodia's founders. 
 
The partners will solicit partnerships in the United Kingdomand beyond with academic and industry organizations that can bring to the tablebiomarker technology that can help to discover, validate and further developthe biomarkers. Any biomarkers discovered under this alliance will be jointlycommercialized by Abcodia and CRT, who will share revenues resulting frompotential licensing deals with additional third parties. No financial termswere disclosed.
 
 
"Earlier detection of cancer remains a huge challenge, butalso a tremendous opportunity. We know that for most types of cancer, theearlier we detect them, the greater the chance of being able to treat themeffectively and successfully. Furthermore, treating earlier-stage disease isusually associated with fewer side effects from treatment for our patients,"Dr. Harpal Kumar, CEO of Cancer Research UK, commented in a statement. "Thescope and scale of this alliance, aimed at developing new tests for a range ofcancers at their earliest stage, before symptoms develop, is very exciting. Thecombination of expertise formed by this partnership provides a greatopportunity to accelerate this vital biomarker research, which we hope willhelp save thousands of lives from cancer."
 
 
This is one of two recent biomarker collaboration announcedby Abcodia in early June, with the second coming just days later. In keepingwith its academic biomarker program, through which the company seeks to partnerwith the world's leading academic centers to examine biomarkers for earlycancer detection or screening, Abcodia will be collaborating with the AustrianInstitute of Technology to validate biomarkers for the early detection of lungand colorectal cancers.

Kelsey Kaustinen

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