Fulfilling an unmet need

Health Discovery Corp. will use PBLSC’s specimen bank in search of non-invasive diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer

Lloyd Dunlap
Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify
SAVANNAH, Ga.—Health Discovery Corp. (HDC) has entered into an exclusive agreement with the Pancreas, Biliary and Liver Surgery Center (PBLSC) of New York at Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers in New York City to develop new molecular diagnostic tests for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.

"Due to our experience and technology, especially in creating a molecular diagnostic test for prostate cancer, the Pancreas Center came to us and asked if we could assist them in developing a molecular diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer," says Dr. Stephen D. Barnhill, chairman and CEO of HDC.

HDC is a molecular diagnostics company that uses advanced mathematical techniques to analyze large amounts of data to uncover patterns that might otherwise be undetectable. According to the company, HDC's Support Vector Machine (SVM) technology outperforms even advanced statistical modeling methodologies such as neural networks, which suffer from a limited ability to handle data and can only analyze the data from two or three dimensions. SVM technology is commonly considered within the context of artificial intelligence and is able to process infinite amounts of data and to analyze the data to find separations and delineations.

This, along with the unique specimen data bank provided by PBLSC, will differentiate the test developed by HDC from others, Barnhill indicates. If successful with this first project, the two organizations may partner again to pursue a liver diagnostic test.
HDC scientists will use its patent-protected SVM-based discovery technology to develop these new molecular diagnostic tests for pancreatic cancer in a similar fashion to the urine-based prostate cancer test developed by HDC and licensed for development and commercialization to Quest Diagnostics and Abbott on a royalty-based, worldwide co-exclusive basis. Due to confidentiality agreements with Quest and Abbott, Barnhill declined to discuss any potential future collaborations with them.

"Ideally," Barnhill says, "the molecular signature found in tissue will also be found in blood and/or urine allowing for the development of a non-invasive test for pancreatic cancer which would open the possibility of this test being used as a screening test for the general population at risk."

HDC will own all of the intellectual property and commercialization rights to these newly discovered molecular diagnostic tests for pancreatic cancer and intends to immediately partner with a large clinical laboratory for development, marketing and commercialization of the tests.

PBLSC will provide all specimens from their collected specimen banks, specimens on all new patients and all associated clinical and outcomes data. The specimens will include tissue, blood and urine. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

The seven-man PBLSC is under the leadership of Drs. Michael Wayne, Franklin Kassim and Avram Cooperman.

"With 1 in 72 men and women diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas during their lifetime, and an overall five-year survival rate of only 5.5 percent, there is a great need for a new molecular diagnostic screening test for early detection of this devastating disease," notes Cooperman, surgical director at the center. "A century of treating pancreatic cancer leaves much to be humble about. I believe that working with Dr. Barnhill, his expert scientific team and the proven SVM technology at Health Discovery Corporation, provides a unique opportunity to develop a new molecular diagnostic test to identify pancreatic cancer early enough to be treated more effectively than is current practice on today's patients."

Companies set sights on early detection of deadly pancreatic cancer

By Amy Swinderman

ATLANTA—Whenit comes to the difficult-to-diagnose disease of pancreatic cancer, thecompanies and institutions we report on in this page are seeking theholy grail: new diagnostic tests for the early detection of this fataldisease, which is hard to find because the pancreas is hidden behindother organs and not readily felt in routine exams.

According to the American Cancer Society,pancreatic cancer, which affects about 38,000 people a year, has a 5percent survival rate for five years if it is caught in its advancedstages. Caught early enough and treated with surgery and chemotherapy,the five-year survival rate goes up to 17 to 25 percent.

The world's oldest and largest private cancer center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center(MSKCC), estimates that only about 20 percent of pancreatic cancers arediagnosed while the tumor is confined entirely within the pancreas.

Renowned research university Johns Hopkinsnotes that pancreatic cancer often presents clinically withnon-specific signs and symptoms such as pain, jaundice and weight loss.In these situations, the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer may not besuspected—and even when it is, pancreatic cancer can be difficult todetect and diagnose. A variety of techniques can be used to establish adiagnosis. These techniques include CAT scan, endoscopic ultrasound(EUS) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

Althoughall of these imaging techniques may reveal a suspicious mass in thepancreas, the "gold standard" for diagnosing pancreatic cancer remainshistopathology, according to Johns Hopkins. Tissue for microscopicexamination can be obtained by fine needle biopsy, by tissue needlecone biopsy or by excisional biopsy at the time of laparotomy.Angiography is useful to determine if the vessels around the pancreasare involved by the tumor and a blood test (CA19-9) can be useful infollowing the effectiveness of treatment.

Lloyd Dunlap

Subscribe to Newsletter
Subscribe to our eNewsletters

Stay connected with all of the latest from Drug Discovery News.

March 2024 Issue Front Cover

Latest Issue  

• Volume 20 • Issue 2 • March 2024

March 2024

March 2024 Issue