NEP explores the exosome

New England Peptide acquires next-generation exosome and microvesicle affinity technology for potential detection of cancer and other diseases

Lloyd Dunlap
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GARNER, Mass.—New England Peptide Inc. (NEP) has acquiredthe worldwide exclusive rights for Vn96 and a portfolio of other peptidecompounds from the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute (ACRI). Under the termsof the licensing agreement, NEP will use the peptides for the research-gradeenrichment of microparticles, microvesicles and exosomes. NEP plans to releasea research-grade affinity enrichment kit within the next quarter.
"Our kit can specifically isolate exosomes in less than anhour on your benchtop," says company president and CEO Sam Massoni. "Studyingthe profile of the biomarkers found within is the next stage in diseaseresearch, and presents a great opportunity to achieve breakthroughs inpersonalized medicine."
Exosomes have become one of the fastest growing areas ofdisease research in recent years, Massoni states.
"The main issue now impeding scientists is one ofaccessibility, as exosomes have proven to be notoriously difficult to obtainfrom biological samples," he notes.
The first generation of affinity reagents on the market werePEG-based and relied on general lipid-binding properties for capture, Massoniexplains.
"Various methods for their purification or capture (notablyultracentrifugation or lipid binding) have previously been developed, but thesemethods may be limited by the availability of equipment and/or questionsregarding the specificity or thoroughness of captured material," he observes."Our reagents are designed to bind specific proteins known to exist on thesurface of exosomes and microvesicles. Vn96 attaches to circulating exosomes bybinding surface heat shock proteins. With a simple mixture the reagents quicklyand efficiently pellet the exosomes out of a variety of biological samples(urine, serum, saliva, cell-derived media, etc.). One can then either filterout pellet (exosomes) or perform a routine centrifuge step and draw offsupernatant. We believe that Vn96, coupled with advancing genomic and proteomicbiomarker research, will lead to a promising array of diagnostic applicationsfor disease detection."
NEP's goal is "for it to be the first step of a simple bloodtest that could provide early detection of hundreds of specific diseases, eachwith its own protein or nucleic acid profile, all performed as part of aroutine physical in the doctor's office," says Massoni.
"A lot of research remains to be conducted, however, to beable to characterize those biomarkers into a specific profile of disease. Thereare also multiple methods of possible sample collection, the results of whichneed to be aligned with one another in order to make certain of thetrustworthiness of any one sample type."
According to Dr. Rodney Ouellett, president and scientificdirector of ACRI, "You can think of microvesicles as a facsimile of a diseasedcell that contains the same altered genes and proteins that you would find in asample obtained from a surgical biopsy. Microvesicles circulate in blood orurine, so important diagnostic or prognostic information can be collectedsimply and used for either research or clinical analysis."
"This agreement is further evidence of New England Peptide'scommitment to collaborate with its customers to develop and manufactureimportant research tools," Massoni states.
NEP plans to manufacture the research-grade kit in itscurrent Massachusetts facility. Massoni notes that ACRI and NEP are activelyseeking collaborators for the clinical use of Vn96.
The ACRI is a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 andhoused at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, NewBrunswick. The Centre focuses on the genetic origins of cancer and is pursuingthree main areas of development: early screening; enhanced diagnosis andtargeted treatment.

Lloyd Dunlap

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