EKF Molecular Diagnostics has agreed a collaboration with specialist medtech company ANGLE plc, to investigate the combination of ANGLE's Parsortix circulating tumour cell (CTC) harvesting platform with EKF Molecular's PointMan™ DNA enrichment technology as a liquid biopsy. If successful, the resulting simple blood test could enable the investigation of unexpected ultra-low level mutations in a patient's cancer for personalised cancer care.
The collaboration will initially work on colorectal cancer and then expand to cover other cancer types. CTCs will be harvested from cancer patients' blood using ANGLE's Parsortix system and then analysed using PointMan™ DNA enrichment technology to identify genetic variation in the cancer.
Both EKF Molecular Diagnostics and ANGLE believe that the combination of the Parsortix system with PointMan™ technology may be advantageous for two reasons. Firstly, the PointMan™ system preferentially amplifies variant sequences of interest whilst suppressing amplification of the wild type i.e. normal DNA. As a result, it has the potential to identify all mutations in gene sequences associated with clinical utility of targeted cancer therapies. In contrast, competing genetic analysis systems generally amplify only those areas which may be predicted to be mutant and therefore may miss unexpected mutations.
Secondly, PointMan is highly sensitive with the ability to work with very low levels of target material, potentially as low as one CTC. The high purity of the Parsortix harvest (low white blood cell contamination) and its epitope independence may enable the combined system to be widely deployed across different cancer types and stages of disease.
Cancer patient blood samples will in the first instance be processed under ANGLE's existing research collaboration with the University of Surrey and the Royal Surrey County Hospital (Guildford, UK). The University of Surrey Oncology Department has already processed 20 colorectal cancer patient samples with the Parsortix system and stored the harvested cells for analysis. This bank of samples is ready for analysis and should enable the collaboration to make rapid progress towards initial proof-of-principle.
If the collaboration is successful, EKF Molecular Diagnostics and ANGLE will explore ways to offer their respective systems as a combined solution addressing first the pharmaceutical drug trial and research use market and then, as patient data are developed, the clinical market.
ANGLE's patented Parsortix system can harvest rare CTCs in cancer patient blood – even when there is less than one CTC in one billion healthy cells. The resulting liquid biopsy (simple blood test), using technology such as PointMan, enables the investigation of mutations in the patient's cancer for personalised cancer care. The Parsortix system is "open-source" and has been designed to work with all existing analytical procedures in the same way that the existing solid biopsy provides cancer cells for a wide variety of analytical procedures.
Andy Webb, CEO, EKF Molecular Diagnostics, commented:
"Our PointMan™ DNA enrichment technology has demonstrable performance in the detection of ultra-low level mutations. The high purity of the CTCs harvested by ANGLE's Parsortix system and the absence of immunomagnetic beads gives us confidence that it will be effective with the Parsortix harvested CTCs providing rapid molecular information to the oncologist."
ANGLE's Founder and Chief Executive, Andrew Newland, commented:
"We are delighted to announce this collaboration with EKF. The combination of ANGLE's Parsortix system with EKF's PointMan™ system has the potential to provide a complete solution for the oncologist. We look forward to an early proof-of-principle."