Getting an Angle on cancer

Parsortix signs research agreement with Paterson Institute

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GUILDFORD, U.K.—Parsortix Inc. has taken the wraps off atwo-year research agreement with the Cancer Research UK-funded PatersonInstitute for Cancer Research.
According to Andrew Newland, CEO of Angle, which owns 90percent of Parsortix, Parsortix will work with the Paterson Institute'sClinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group (CEP), which specializes incirculating tumor cells (CTCs). While terms of the agreement have not beenreleased, Newland says all of the intellectual property and commercial valueresulting from the work rests with Parsortix.
The Paterson Institute, which is part of the University ofManchester's cancer research unit, is renowned for its work on validatingbiomarkers based on CTCs, a key area of relevance for the treatment of cancerpatients.
According to Newland, the focus of the collaboration willinclude cancer patient blood studies to provide further independentconfirmation of the performance of the Parsortix device and to optimize itsdesign; development of research and clinical applications of the Parsortixdevice utilizing cancer biomarkers; evaluation of the Parsortix cassette CTCcapture characteristics in relation to other CTC technology platforms; andin-depth comparative studies to support regulatory approval submissions byParsortix for CE marking in Europe and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)approval in the United States.
"They will then be running multiple separations on cancerpatients' blood and give us advice on how to improve the efficacy of what weare doing," Newland says. "They will then be doing comparative analysiscomparing our technology against other existing technologies, including oneproduct on the market and others that are being developed."
Newland says the application of CEP's expertise inbiomarkers will be highly beneficial to facilitating the development ofParsortix's CTC capture device and taking it to market.
The Parsortix CTC research at the Paterson Institute will beled by CEP director Prof. Caroline Dive and her deputy, Dr. Ged Brady.
"The Parsortix cell-separation technology offers thepotential for improved capture of CTCs from cancer patient blood, and since itdoes not rely on antibody affinity capture, has the potential to be both moreeffective and more widely applicable than existing techniques," says Dive. "Wehope to be able to recover viable CTCs from the Parsortix device and be able todetect useful predictive and/or pharmacodynamic biomarkers, which will enableboth an improvement in patient treatment and better targeted, more effectiveclinical trials of new cancer drugs in the future." 
Newland adds that "a key to the Parsortix technology is ituses a counter diagnostic by capturing circulating tumor cells in cancerpatients. The issue here is that the patient has a primary tumor—let's say awoman with breast cancer. That tumor will disseminate cancer cells into thepatient's bloodstream."
Newland adds that the circulating tumor cells are very rare,with approximately one blood cell in 1 billion healthy cells. Those cancercells go around the body and they may lodge in another organ.
"If you can capture those cells, you can learn quite a lot,"he adds. "You can count the number of cells that a patient has and there is aprognostic result that can be obtained from that in terms of the patient'slikely survival rate."
Moreover, researchers also can determine what happens to thecells when the patient is being treated, detecting whether a form of treatmentis effective.
When a patient is in remission, whether a tumor has beenremoved or chemotherapy has been effective, the question becomes whether theyare going to have a relapse. Often, when a relapse is detected, it can be toolate for effective treatment.
"We believe that a simple blood test taken on a regularbasis can look for these circulating tumor cells," Newland says. "Ahead of anysymptoms arising, they can potentially identify that a patient is at risk of arelapse or has just relapsed. Treatment can be deployed early and survival canbe greatly enhanced."
The technology also can be effective for detecting variousforms of cancer. 
"The greatest thing about our separation technology—becauseit works based on the physical characteristics of the cancer cell that islarger and less compressible than the other cells in the blood—we do not haveto use specific antibody capture technology," Newland explains. "It has thepotential to capture all tumor cells."
Newland adds that Parsortix "has a good prototype and wehope to optimize the separation technology so that it works well for researchpurposes."
Development of the technology could yield a revenue streamthat could bring Parsortix an estimated $50 million a year. The goal is to havethe research technology on the market by the end of the year.
"We then want to move on into clinical use and we will needto get FDA approval before it can be used to treat patients," Newland says."That is a goal the company would like to reach that by the end of 2013. To dothat, we have to make sure that the device works consistently well. We haven'tgotten there yet, and that's where Patterson's capabilities will make a bigdifference."
Marketing the technology for clinical use could result in abigger windfall for Parsortix, with potential revenue reaching $4 billionannually.
Parsortix's deal with Paterson Institute is the second majorresearch agreement signed by Angle recently.
In December, the University of Surrey's oncology departmentagreed to carry out a structured investigation of the device's capability incapturing circulating tumor cells from cancer patient's blood.

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