Novel clinical diagnostics developer, Proteomics International has teamed up with the QMIR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland to improve and simplify the detection of oesophageal adenocarcinoma, the most common form of oesophageal cancer. Proteomics will use its trademarked Promarker platform with QIMR Berghofer’s biomarkers to develop a simple blood test for the cancer, whose incidence is on the rise.
Novel clinical diagnostics developer, Proteomics International is partnering with the QMIR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland to improve and simplify the detection of oesophageal adenocarcinoma, the most common form of oesophageal cancer. Proteomics will use its trademarked Promarker platform with QIMR Berghofer’s biomarkers to develop a simple blood test for the cancer, whose incidence is on the rise.
The ability to apply a blood test to detect the cancer would dramatically reduce the risks associated with current detections methods which principally involve an invasive endoscopy being passed down a patient’s throat. It is also hoped that the application of a simple blood test to diagnose the cancer would not only reduce risks associated with an endoscopy but also make the process a far less confronting.
The partnership between the ASX-listed Proteomics and QIMR Berghofer will see Proteomics deploy its Promarker platform to initially analyse and then clinically validate a panel of biomarkers, commonly referred to as protein ‘fingerprints’ in blood, which QIMR Berghofer researchers discovered were associated with the early stages of the disease.
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute was established by the Queensland Government 75 years ago and has a rich history of scientific discoveries and translational medical research. It has been traditionally focused on improving health outcomes via the development of new diagnostics and improved treatment and prevention strategies for cancer, infectious diseases, mental health and chronic disorders.
Proteomics said, once developed, the oesophageal adenocarcinoma blood test could be offered to patients with Barrett’s oesophagus - a pre-malignant condition associated with an increased risk of developing oesophageal cancer.
According to the company, Barrett’s oesophagus is a condition that affects approximately 2 per cent of the population and occurs when the oesophagus is damaged by acid reflux.
According to Proteomics International, the American Gastroenterological Association recommends people with Barrett’s oesophagus should be screened every three to four months to check for pre-cancerous cells. If discovered early, the pre-cancerous cells can be treated to prevent oesophageal cancer which it is hoped the blood test being developed by the JV partners will assist in detecting.
QIMR Berghofer medical researcher, Associate Professor Michelle Hill, leader of the team that discovered the biomarkers, said the blood test under development could fundamentally change oesophageal cancer screening.
Professor Hill commented:
“At the moment, patients have to undergo an invasive endoscopy, with a camera passed down their throat to look for changes in the oesophagus tissue, and a biopsy taken. It’s uncomfortable for patients, requires specialist expertise, and comes with some risk of perforation and bleeding.”
Across North America, Australia and Europe, it is estimated there are more than 6 million patients suffering from the disease, with 850,000 of them having endoscopic screens each year in the USA alone. Endoscopies are also expensive, costing an average of US$2,750 in the USA, according to Proteomics International.
Proteomics International Managing Director, Dr Richard Lipscombe said:
“The new technology aimed to identify the 5 per cent of people most at risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma, and prioritise treatment for those patients. It has huge potential to bring down the overall number of endoscopy procedures, limit unnecessary patient discomfort and reduce the burden on the health system.”
If the oesophageal adenocarcinoma collaboration is successful, Proteomics said it will have first rights to license the IP and commercialise the test worldwide. The company also said this latest collaboration was in line with its strategy to expand its diagnostics portfolio and the leveraging of its proprietary Promarker platform, which has already developed a world-first diabetic kidney disease test.
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