Early Diagnosis Consortium gains three new members

Caprion, Asuragen and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology join Cancer Research UK, Cancer Research Technology and Abcodia in the effort to identify blood-based biomarkers for cancer screening

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LONDON—Cancer Research UK, its commercial arm, Cancer Research Technology, and Abcodia have selected three biomarker companies to join them in the Early Diagnosis Consortium, a collaboration for advancing early detection of cancer: Caprion, Asuragen and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology.
This initiative has three main phases, as noted on Abcodia's website: discovery, verification and validation. Preceding those is a pilot phase, which was recently completed and meant to determine the cancers the consortium will focus on, the most appropriate technology to use when testing for biomarkers in serum and technology partners that are capable of supporting this venture.
In terms of that second aim for the pilot phase, the partners tested technologies against serum samples chosen from a biobank of more than five million such samples, collected from women in conjunction with the UKCTOCS trial, to which Abcodia has exclusive commercial access.
Each of the new biomarker companies bring with them specialization in certain technologies: Caprion has expertise in proteomics, Asuragen utilizes next-generation sequencing to locate circulating microRNAs and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology has a tumor auto-antibodies platform.
“After a successful pilot, we are delighted to be able to bring additional technological capability into this collaborative effort, to add to the clinical, scientific and commercial expertise of existing partners,” Dr. Keith Blundy, chief executive of Cancer Research Technology, said in a press release. “The biobank derived from UKCTOCS is providing us with the opportunity, through this initiative, to potentially unlock a future in which thousands of cancer cases could be detected and treated before symptoms emerge.”
In the next stage of the EDC, the participants will seek to identify biomarkers for lung, colorectal, esophageal and pancreatic cancers; these cancer types were selected due to their limited availability of screening tests and the poor survival faced by patients with these cancers when diagnosed late in their disease.
“We are excited to work with these world-leading companies to bring their cutting-edge technology to this endeavor. The application of such technologies to biomarker discovery in longitudinal samples donated before the clinical presentation of cancer is a real innovation and has the potential to make a real difference to the field of early cancer detection,” Dr. Julie Barnes, chief executive of Abcodia, noted in a statement.
This global consortium was announced back on June 6, 2013, with the goal of discovering and validating blood-based biomarkers, biomarker panels or statistical algorithms that could be used in screening for common cancers. Through its exclusive commercial license, Abcodia will provide access to longitudinal serum samples from the UKCTOCS biobank created by researchers from the University College London.
Phase 1 of the collaboration will seek to determine the best biomarker for each cancer type, and at the end of that phase, Cancer Research UK, Cancer Research Technology and Abcodia will jointly select the most promising markers and technology for the verification phase. In Phase 2, the biomarkers will be verified for sensitivity and specificity; at the end of this phase, the organizations will seek commercialization partners capable of developing and validating assays. Phase 3 will utilize those assays to confirm biomarker performance.

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