EKF Molecular Diagnostics and Angle plc have announced a collaboration to explore the combination of Angle’s open-source Parsortix circulating tumor cell (CTC) harvesting platform with EKF’s PointMan DNA enrichment technology to perform liquid biopsies. The resulting simple blood test could improve personalized cancer care by enabling the investigation of unexpected ultra-low-level mutations.
The project will use the Parsortix system to harvest CTCs from cancer patients’ blood, and will then use the PointMan technology to analyze the cells and identify genetic variations. The companies will focus their efforts on colorectal cancer before expanding application to other cancer types. They plan to move first into the pharmaceutical drug trial and research use market, and to enter the clinical market later, as patient data are developed.
According to an announcement issued by the companies, the collaboration offers some key advantages. Unlike other genetic analysis systems that typically amplify only areas expected to contain mutations, the PointMan system preferentially amplifies variant sequences of interest while suppressing amplification of normal DNA. As a result, the PointMan technology could potentially identify all mutations with clinical utility for targeted cancer therapies. In addition, the PointMan system is capable of working with levels of target material as low as one CTC.
CTCs harvested by the Parsortix system are typified by epitope independence and a low level of white blood cell contamination, which may permit the combined system to be widely deployed across different cancer types and stages of disease.
“Our PointMan DNA enrichment technology has demonstrable performance in the detection of ultra-low-level mutations,” says Andy Webb, CEO of EKF. “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 currently maintains a research collaboration with the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, UK, and the University of Surrey. The university’s oncology department has already used the Parsortix system to process a bank of 20 colorectal cancer patient samples and has stored them for future analysis, which should accelerate progress toward initial proof of principle.
“We are delighted to announce this collaboration with EKF,” says Andrew Newland, Angle’s founder and chief executive. “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.”