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ANGLE's blood screening tech developing into key ally for battle against cancer

Identifying cancer cells early is a key part of combatting the disease, and ANGLE's Parsortix device looks to be developing into a key ally.
Blood testing
ANGLE has become part of a Europe-wide consortium that will set the standards for using blood-based markers

Identifying cancer cells early is a key part of combatting the killer disease, and ANGLE PLC’s (LON:AGL OTCMKTS:ANPCY) Parsortix device looks to be developing into a key component in this battle against a variety of tumours.

The latest news from the AIM-listed company has seen it become part of a Europe-wide consortium that will set the standards for using blood-based markers to identify cancer.

ANGLE will contribute its Parsortix technology, which harvests circulation tumour cells (CTC) that identify the presence and particular strain of the killer disease.

READ: ANGLE part of consortium ...

The CANCER-ID programme in which it is taking part will assess whether the ANGLE device should provide the standard method of harvesting CTCs.

Running until 2020, an initial evaluation will be followed by a clinical phase to establish the use of liquid biopsies in treating lung and breast cancer. 

CANCER-ID is backed by €14mln of funding and involves 38 companies and institutions from 13 countries across Europe, including German giant Bayer and Italy’s Menarini Silicon Biosystems.

Andrew Newland, ANGLE’s founder and chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be part of this programme as it offers the Parsortix system the potential to be specified as a standard CTC harvesting system for clinical use in patients with lung cancer and breast cancer in Europe, with the opportunity for collaboration with multiple downstream analysis companies."

Ovarian promise

Over the past six months, trials with the Parsortix technology for harvesting circulating tumour cells has shown some early promise in helping researchers identify a number of different cancers.

At the end of January, the group said very early stage results from two separate ovarian cancer trials – one in Europe and one in the US - showed the ANGLE-developed system could accurately differentiate between women with a malignant pelvic mass and those with benign tumours.

ANGLE said Parsortix could also have the additional benefit of providing valuable gene expression information, which could help further refine treatment decisions.

“Such data, if confirmed over the remaining samples, would represent an advantage over currently available clinical risk assessment tools,” the firm said.

So far data has been obtained from the first 50 patients enrolled in each study. Headline results from the completed trials will be available in the second quarter.

The studies are being carried out by Dr Robert Zeillinger at the Medical University of Vienna and Dr Richard Moore at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Newland said: "The interim data evaluation supports the potential for ANGLE's first clinical application to out-perform standard of care for the detection of ovarian cancer, particularly in relation to specificity avoiding false positives.

WATCH: ANGLE's Newland reflect on year ...

Breast focus

ANGLE’s first half results also charted the significant progress made by the company, including “extensive work” towards Parsortix’s clearance in metastatic breast cancer from the US Food & Drug Administration

A clinical study plan, involving 200 metastatic breast cancer patients and 200 healthy volunteers, has been submitted to the scientific review committees at three world-leading US cancer centres for formal review.

Completion of the analytical and clinical studies is expected in 2017 to enable a submission to the FDA.

Regulatory clearance from the FDA would open the market up for the breakthrough device.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the UK, one in eight women will develop it at some point in their lifetime according to Cancer Research.

Despite huge leaps in treatment and recovery rates, 1,000 women in the UK still die of breast cancer every month.

For many patients, fast diagnosis is key to early and full recovery.

Prostate problems

Last July the company also welcomed new research that potentially supports the use of the company’s breakthrough cancer detection system as an alternative to biopsies in men with suspected prostate cancer.

Trials at Bart's Cancer Institute at Queen Mary University found that ANGLE’s Parsortix device was able to capture a very specific subset of circulating tumour cells from prostate cancer patient blood samples.

Cancers can shed tumour cells and fragments of DNA into the blood system, the more advanced the more likely these cells can be found in the blood.

It means Parsortix could potentially be used gauge at what stage and how severe the prostate cancer is.

Currently the removal of tissue is standard for men with suspected prostate cancer - yet 75% to 80% of them do not have the disease. It means they risk serious complications.

A biopsy is often a painful and invasive surgery to remove a sample of the affected tissue for testing.

Research use increases

Aside from the ovarian, prostate and breast cancer trials, there has also been an increase in general research use of Partsortix.

For instance, the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute has selected the technology for routine use in clinical trials and has processed 1,100 patient samples in 16 clinical trials.

There also looks to be a growing body of published evidence, from internationally-recognised cancer centres, that validates Parsortix as a potent and cutting edge liquid biopsy solution.

The Parsortix system uses a patented micro-fluidic technology in the form of a disposable cassette to capture and then harvest circulating tumour cells from blood.

The cassette captures CTCs based on their less deformable nature and larger size compared to other blood components, using a patented separation step that acts as a kind of filter.

Using the system, doctors can get the same information one would get from a biopsy, but through a simple blood test.

Cheaper too

Crucially, as well, it would be much cheaper than surgery. Surgical biopsy in the US costs insurance companies around $3,500 and in the UK it can cost the NHS in excess of £1,000, not including consultant and follow-up fees.

The disposable cassette costs very little in itself, meaning the overall cost of testing (including the use of the machine) is a fraction of the cost of surgery.

Not to mention reducing the risk of initial treatment failing and the associated cost of prolonged or alternative therapy.

The Parsortix system would therefore be a welcome addition to an oncologist’s armoury in the fight against cancer.

It could significantly reduce patient discomfort and speed up diagnosis, removing the need for time and resource consuming surgery.

As is common with companies at this pre-commercial stage of development, ANGLE remains loss-making, to the tune of £2.7mln in the six months ended October 31.

But more importantly, it sits on solid financial foundations with £9.7mln in the bank at that period end.

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