VolitionRx Limited, a life sciences company focused on developing blood-based diagnostic tests for a broad range of cancer types and other conditions, today announced that it has procured three additional Tecan EVO200 automated liquid handling systems (automated laboratory robots) to expedite analysis of samples for the ongoing large clinical trials evaluating its NuQ® cancer detection platform. By increasing capacity to four automated systems, throughput and rate of sample analysis will be greatly increased, enabling faster development of the Company’s NuQ® tests.
Cameron Reynolds, Chief Executive Officer of VolitionRx, remarked:
This budgeted investment greatly supports our Company’s strategic decision to maximize the speed and efficiency of our ongoing large clinical trials. The use of four automated systems will support the generation of extensive amounts of data and allow for faster study timelines to full data readouts. We expect that this increased data generation capacity will result in more scientific publications, quicker access to CE mark in Europe and an overall accelerated approach to regulatory pathways worldwide
Using its first installed robot, VolitionRx has recently completed the analysis of a first NuQ® assay on the complete set of 4,800 blood samples for its large retrospective, symptomatic population colorectal cancer study in collaboration with Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Procuring three new Tecans allows the Company to dedicate one robot to this study, and VolitionRx now hopes to complete one NuQ® assay per month on the full data set for the 4,800-patient cohort. At this capacity, the Company expects to finalize its analysis and determine an initial NuQ® colorectal cancer panel during the second half of 2015.
Gaetan Michel, PhD, Chief Operations Officer of Belgian Volition, commented, “The fully-dedicated Tecan platform currently allows us to run analysis of approximately 5,000 samples per month per robot. The reproducibility and robustness of these automated assays is extremely encouraging and will allow for optimal output of reliable large scale results. We are currently further optimizing the platform process to reach a 50 percent capacity increase to 7,500 samples per month per robot.”
VolitionRx Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Jake Micallef added:
Over the past five years, since VolitionRx was established, we have manually processed approximately 30,000 samples across all our studies, in multiple cancers. Due to the significant increase in the number of clinical studies we now have underway, and our constant development of new biomarkers for new assays, we determined that it was essential to make a step change in our processing capabilities through additional automated platforms. This investment will allow us to reach an impressive capacity of 30,000 assays per month, approximately the same amount as we have completed in total. The first robot is fully up and running and all four are due to be delivered by the end of April and should be fully operational by the end of May
The NuQ® tests utilize the Company’s proprietary Nucleosomics® technology platform, which identifies and measures circulating nucleosome structures for the presence of epigenetic cancer and signals within the blood.
VolitionRx has developed a suite of NuQ® assays for more than 20 different epigenetic structures on nucleosomes. These assays use two antibodies. The first antibody is attached to a plastic surface and binds to nucleosomes. The second antibody is chemically detectable and binds to the epigenetic structure of interest contained within the nucleosome. When blood is added to the antibody-coated plastic plate, nucleosomes in the blood bind to the first antibody. The second antibody is then added and can only be chemically detected if nucleosomes containing the epigenetic structure of interest are present. The NuQ® assay uses less than a single drop of blood to measure nucleosomes that contain the epigenetic structure of interest and the level of these nucleosomes is different in the blood of cancer patients than in healthy people. Each NuQ® cancer test uses a combination of 4-5 of these proprietary assays to form a “panel” test.
Clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of VolitionRx’s assays include:
• A 4,800 patient retrospective symptomatic population study (Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
• A 14,000 patient prospective screening study (Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
• A 250 patient prospective study (CHU-UCL Mont Godinne Hospital, Belgium)
• A 600 patient prospective confirmatory study (University Hospital, Bonn, Germany)
• A retrospective study to establish the efficacy of VolitionRx’s NuQ® tests to distinguish anaplastic prostate cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease, from typical castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), the less aggressive form (MD Anderson, Texas)
• A 120-patient prospective feasibility study (ImmuneHealth, Belgium)
• A 40-patient prospective feasibility study (Singapore General Hospital, Singapore)
20 most prevalent cancers
• A 4,000 patient prospective study that involves patients with the 20 most prevalent cancers at University Hospital in Bonn, Germany
• A prospective study to assess VolitionRx’s NuQ® tests for the diagnosis of endometriosis (the University of Oxford, United Kingdom)
For more information about Tecan’s liquid handling system (robot) please see http://www.tecan.com/platform/apps/product/index.asp?MenuID=2694&ID=5270&Menu=1&Item=21.1.8