ANGLE plc(LON:AGL, OTCQX:ANPCY) said its device for detecting the early signs of cancer had shown promise harvesting fetal cells.
Parsortix appeared to score well against existing methods of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT).
Specifically, it was able to harvest intact cells, which could then be assessed for abnormalities such Down’s Syndrome.
Currently-available technology allows for only fragments of dead fetal cells to be collected, which limits the scope for testing an assessment.
Current technology has drawbacks
Parsortix, by contrast, could pave the way for broader genetic screening.
It is estimated that current cell-free fetal DNA non-invasive techniques identify less than 10% of all serious birth defects.
“A test utilising intact fetal cells could have much wider application than the current cell-free tests,” ANGLE said.
A further limitation of the current method of non-invasive testing is that it relies on next-generation sequencing analysis of cell-free DNA.
This area is currently the domain of a small handful large life sciences companies which closely guard the intellectual property.
The Parsortix method has its own cell-free DNA analysis that doesn’t infringe the competition’s patents.
Presentation of data
Data from the pilot study of 19 pregnant women will be presented at the Sixth Annual Advances in Prenatal Diagnostics conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Delegates will hear that large fetal cells were identified in every case.
The test was able to distinguish between male and female chromosomes and, in one case, correctly identified trisomy 21, the marker for Down’s.
“This was a small-scale pilot study and, whilst highly encouraging, substantial further work will be necessary to develop an effective NIPT [non-invasive] test,” ANGLE said.
The size of the non-invasive prenatal testing market is estimated to be around US$600mln and is expected to grow to US$1bn a year by 2022.
Recognising this, but unwilling to impede the current traction it is gaining for Parsortix in the cancer arena, ANGLE is looking for an outside partner to help commercialise the fetal cell test opportunity.
"Non-invasive prenatal testing is a major new market for the Parsortix system and a potential solution to the current limitations of NIPT, providing a more comprehensive diagnosis of fetal abnormalities for mothers at risk of an affected pregnancy,” said ANGLE founder and chief executive, Andrew Newland.
“ANGLE's product-based approach to liquid biopsy enables us to leverage partnerships with third parties, which we are developing in the NIPT space, an established and fast growing large-scale market."
The shares rose 4%, valuing ANGLE at £58mln.