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Abcodia Licenses the ‘Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm’ (ROCA) Developed at Massachusetts General Hospital and Queen Mary, University of London

Abcodia, the biomarker validation company with a focus on screening for cancer, today announced that it has entered into an agreement for an exclusive world-wide commercial license to the Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA) developed at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Queen Mary, University of London.

ROCA has the potential to be a major breakthrough for the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The diagnosis of ovarian cancer is usually made when the disease has spread outside the ovaries and as a result the outcome is poor. In the 80% of cases of ovarian cancer in which diagnosis occurs in the later stages, the 5-year survival rate is less than 20%. If diagnosed early, 5-year survival exceeds 85%. Hence the need for early diagnosis, in the hope that current treatments will be more effective. Around the world, an estimated 200,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed in women each year and there are over 125,000 deaths.

ROCA is a test being validated for the screening of ovarian cancer. It was invented by Professor Ian Jacobs, Dean & Head School of Medicine, Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences, University of Manchester, and formerly of Queen Mary, University of London, and Dr Steven Skates of the Biostatistics Center, MGH, who together studied longitudinal patterns of CA125 in multiple cohorts of post-menopausal women to develop a statistical algorithm efficiently combining information in age and serial CA125 levels. ROCA has since shown excellent specificity, Positive Predictive Value (PPV) and sensitivity in large studies including UKCTOCS (UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening) and UKFOCSS (UK Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Study).

A recent study by the MD Anderson Cancer Center in normal risk postmenopausal women reported a specificity of 99.9% and a PPV of 40% for ROCA when ultrasound was used as a secondary test. This confirms, in a USA population, results previously reported by the larger UKCTOCS trial involving 202,000 normal risk postmenopausal women. The published results from UKCTOCS2 indicate that, as well as achieving high specificity and PPV, ROCA can achieve a sensitivity of 89% for screen detection of ovarian cancer. UKCTOCS is a randomised trial comparing screening with standard care, and in 2015 will provide results on the impact of screening with ROCA on mortality and survival from ovarian cancer. The final data from UKCTOCS will be of great importance in guiding future clinical use of the ROCA in clinical practice.

Commenting on the recent MD Anderson publication, Professor Ian Jacobs, also Director of the UKCTOCS trial, said: “I am delighted to see the outcome of the MD Anderson 11 year study. The results reassuringly confirm in a USA setting those reported from the UKCTOCS prevalence study published in 2009. We now await further data from UKCTOCS in 2015 to establish whether the encouraging specificity and sensitivity data translate into improvements in survival and mortality which through early detection can help women affected by ovarian cancer.”

Dr Julie Barnes, Abcodia’s CEO, said: “The licensing of ROCA is a significant opportunity for Abcodia and we now intend to work with the co-founders to actively plan a commercialisation path that will in due course enable ROCA to be made available to women in Europe, US and around the world. We are currently in active discussions with partners in different territories to support our mission. Based on the reports to date, and in particular the sensitivity, specificity and PPV data, we will begin to explore ways in which the ROCA could be implemented in clinical practice. The eventual clinical use will of course be informed and guided by the outcome of UKCTOCS and other clinical trials.”

Source: Abcodia

Abcodia and Cellmid Collaborate on the Studying of Midkine for Early Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer

Abcodia Ltd, the UK biomarker validation company with a focus on early detection of cancer, today announced that it has entered into a collaboration agreement with Cellmid Ltd (ASX: CDY), for the testing of midkine (MK) in a collection of longitudinal serum samples using Cellmid’s MK-ELISA.

The initial objective of the collaboration is to validate midkine as a useful marker for the screening and early diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Serum samples will be provided by Abcodia and testing will be carried out by Cellmid.

The collaboration focuses on the assessment of midkine in pre-diagnosis serum samples. Abcodia has exclusive access to a unique biobank of 5,000,000 serum samples collected through the UK Collaborative Trial for Ovarian Cancer Screening.

The biobank was derived from 200,000 initially healthy volunteers. Since first recruitment, more than 27,000 individuals have been diagnosed with cancer. A subset of 50,000 individuals within the 200,000 cohort have provided samples annually, making this a unique longitudinal resource for testing midkine levels early, even before symptoms appear.

The collaboration agreement allows for the testing of multiple cancer indications, but initially targeting the early detection and screening of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer ranks third in incidence and second in cancer-related mortality in the United States.

Although the five year survival rate for stage 1 cancers is as high as 74%, for stage 4 cancers, when the cancer has metastasized, this reduces to just 6%. Early diagnosis of colorectal cancer, before the spread to the lymph nodes and distant sites, is vital to reduce death rates.

Midkine has been extensively validated as a biomarker in a range of other cancers. t has been shown to appear very early in some solid tumours with demonstrated utility in disease management and monitoring. Since 2012 midkine has been commercially used as one of the biomarkers in CxBladder®, a diagnostic test for the monitoring of bladder cancer patients.

Cellmid’s CEO, Maria Halasz, said: “We are excited to collaborate with the expert team at Abcodia to measure midkine levels in their extensive collection of pre-diagnosis serum samples. It is an exceptional opportunity for Cellmid to take part in the development of an important cancer diagnostic test.”

Abcodia’s CEO, Dr Julie Barnes, said: “I am delighted to be able to form this partnership with Cellmid. Midkine is an intriguing marker and I hope that we can reveal an interesting profile in the early pre-symptomatic phase of colorectal cancer. The uptake of current screening methods for colorectal cancer (colonoscopy and haemoccult testing) is low and a simple blood test could help significantly improve early diagnosis and therefore improve treatment outcomes.”

Source: Abcodia

Cancer Research UK and CRT Collaborate with Abcodia to Discover and Develop Tests for Early Diagnosis of Cancer

Cancer Research UK and its commercial arm, Cancer Research Technology (CRT), have joined forces with Abcodia, the biomarker validation company with a focus on cancer screening, to develop new blood tests to detect a range of cancers when they are still at a very early stage.

The strategic alliance will focus on biomarkers to detect cancers before patients develop symptoms, concentrating on cancers which currently have limited screening tests available, such as non-small cell lung cancer.

Detecting cancer earlier will give doctors the best chance to treat cancer effectively, before the disease develops and spreads when it becomes more difficult to treat. Identifying patients at an early stage will also provide the scientific and pharmaceutical communities with the ability to select patients for the development of a new generation of anti-cancer medicines.

The partnership combines Cancer Research UK’s extensive clinical oncology and scientific network with Abcodia’s expertise in the longitudinal profiling of biomarkers, as well as its exclusive access to one of the world’s largest prospective collections of serum samples available for biomarker research. This collection is derived from the UK Collaborative trial for Ovarian Cancer Screening* (UKCTOCS) run at University College London (UCL) and contains more than five million serum samples. The trial is part funded by Cancer Research UK.

The samples in the collection have been taken from healthy people annually and in many cases, up to 10 years prior to a cancer diagnosis. The collaboration will use these samples to select biomarkers which provide a clear indication of change in the early pre-diagnosis stages of disease.

Cancer Research UK, CRT and Abcodia will seek partnerships in the UK and internationally, with academic and commercial organisations which have leading-edge biomarker technology, to discover, validate and further develop the markers.

Dr Julie Barnes, Abcodia’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to be able to work with Cancer Research UK and CRT in this new global venture. The early diagnosis of cancer has never been more important and with the collective expertise that this alliance can bring, we hope to make a real difference in the field of early cancer detection and screening.”

The alliance is particularly interested in seeking markers that may be expressed in serum; for example, proteins, microRNAs – regulators of gene expression, exosomes ¬– cell-derived vesicles, autoantibodies – antibodies targeting an individual’s own proteins, and DNA methylation – a molecular switch to turn DNA on and off. Both genetic and acquired risk factors will also be investigated.

Abcodia and CRT will jointly commercialise any biomarkers discovered during the collaboration and share revenues resulting from potential licensing deals with additional third parties.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Earlier detection of cancer remains a huge challenge but also a tremendous opportunity. We know that for most types of cancer, the earlier we detect them, the greater the chance of being able to treat them effectively and successfully. Furthermore, treating earlier stage disease is usually associated with fewer side effects from treatment for our patients. The scope and scale of this alliance, aimed at developing new tests for a range of cancers at their earliest stage, before symptoms develop, is very exciting. The combination of expertise formed by this partnership provides a great opportunity to accelerate this vital biomarker research, which we hope will help save thousands of lives from cancer.”

Professor Ian Jacobs, Vice President at the University of Manchester, Principle Investigator of UKCTOCS and an Abcodia founder, said: “I’m delighted that the biobank developed through UKCTOCS will be used for such an important collaborative venture which has potential to yield important discoveries and to benefit patients through early detection across a range of cancers.”

Dr Keith Blundy, Cancer Research Technology’s chief executive, said: “This important alliance combines Cancer Research UK’s clinical expertise, with the commercialisation expertise of both Abcodia and CRT. Together with additional technology partners, we hope to be able to identify early detection biomarkers that will enable patients to be treated as soon as possible, ultimately saving lives.”

Source: Abcodia

The Michael J. Fox Foundation Launches New Arm Of Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative Studying At-Risk Populations In Parkinson’s Disease

The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a landmark biomarker clinical study, has completed enrollment of its initial 600-member cohort of Parkinson’s patients and controls, and will launch additional study cohorts to leverage the existing PPMI infrastructure and evaluate multiple potential biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease (PD). The first of these new cohorts launches today and will investigate risk factors for PD that may enable diagnosis before the onset of motor symptoms.

The pre-motor arm of PPMI will enroll participants who do not have Parkinson’s disease but do have one of three potential risk factors for PD: a reduced sense of smell (hyposmia); rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD); or a mutation in the LRRK2 gene (the single greatest genetic contributor to PD known to date). Research to date indicates that each of these factors can be linked to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, though many people with these conditions do not go on to develop PD. Validating these risk factors and better characterizing their connection to Parkinson’s could enable detection of the disease prior to the onset of motor symptoms and open new avenues toward identifying biomarkers — critical tools in the quest for therapies that can slow or stop disease progression.

“If scientists can learn more about the biological processes taking place in people with any of these three risk factors, we may be able to define biomarkers even before typical symptoms begin,” said Ken Marek , MD, principal investigator of PPMI and president and senior scientist at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, Connecticut. “Finding a biomarker for PD could mean earlier diagnosis of the disease and lead to new drugs that may delay or even prevent the onset of motor symptoms.”

PPMI seeks 10,000 individuals to complete a brief online survey to determine eligibility for the loss-of-smell cohort. Participants in the other groups will largely be enrolled via research centers. This new arm will take place at 23 sites across the world where participants will undergo the same clinical assessments, imaging and collection of biospecimens as the original study.

PPMI’s open-source design and infrastructure has opened the door to evaluating multiple potential biomarkers under one umbrella, building on a precedent created by the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). All PPMI clinical data and characterized biosamples are available in real time, providing researchers around the world with an unprecedented resource to help speed and unify disparate biomarker validation studies. To date, 460 scientists from academia and industry have downloaded PPMI data more than 50,000 times in over 30 countries worldwide, and 21 applications have been made for use of PPMI biospecimens in biomarker research. Initial baseline data from PPMI’s original newly diagnosed and control cohorts will be presented this June at the Movement Disorders Society and is expected to be published later this year.

“Lessons learned from Alzheimer’s have taught us the importance of pursuing biomarker research concurrent with therapeutic development,” said Todd Sherer , Ph.D., CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “In the third year of PPMI, it is evident that a large-scale biomarker study is not only possible in Parkinson’s disease, but is already yielding scientific insights that could help transform the field’s pursuit of a cure.”

Source: PR Newswire

The Michael J. Fox Foundation Launches New Arm of Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative Studying At-Risk Populations in Parkinson’s Disease

The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a landmark biomarker clinical study, has completed enrollment of its initial 600-member cohort of Parkinson’s patients and controls, and will launch additional study cohorts to leverage the existing PPMI infrastructure and evaluate multiple potential biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease (PD). The first of these new cohorts launches today and will investigate risk factors for PD that may enable diagnosis before the onset of motor symptoms.

The pre-motor arm of PPMI will enroll participants who do not have Parkinson’s disease but do have one of three potential risk factors for PD: a reduced sense of smell (hyposmia); rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD); or a mutation in the LRRK2 gene (the single greatest genetic contributor to PD known to date). Research to date indicates that each of these factors can be linked to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, though many people with these conditions do not go on to develop PD. Validating these risk factors and better characterizing their connection to Parkinson’s could enable detection of the disease prior to the onset of motor symptoms and open new avenues toward identifying biomarkers — critical tools in the quest for therapies that can slow or stop disease progression.

“If scientists can learn more about the biological processes taking place in people with any of these three risk factors, we may be able to define biomarkers even before typical symptoms begin,” said Ken Marek, MD, principal investigator of PPMI and president and senior scientist at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, Connecticut. “Finding a biomarker for PD could mean earlier diagnosis of the disease and lead to new drugs that may delay or even prevent the onset of motor symptoms.”

PPMI seeks 10,000 individuals to complete a brief online survey to determine eligibility for the loss-of-smell cohort. Participants in the other groups will largely be enrolled via research centers. This new arm will take place at 23 sites across the world where participants will undergo the same clinical assessments, imaging and collection of biospecimens as the original study.

PPMI’s open-source design and infrastructure has opened the door to evaluating multiple potential biomarkers under one umbrella, building on a precedent created by the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). All PPMI clinical data and characterized biosamples are available in real time, providing researchers around the world with an unprecedented resource to help speed and unify disparate biomarker validation studies. To date, 460 scientists from academia and industry have downloaded PPMI data more than 50,000 times in over 30 countries worldwide, and 21 applications have been made for use of PPMI biospecimens in biomarker research. Initial baseline data from PPMI’s original newly diagnosed and control cohorts will be presented this June at the Movement Disorders Society and is expected to be published later this year.

“Lessons learned from Alzheimer’s have taught us the importance of pursuing biomarker research concurrent with therapeutic development,” said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “In the third year of PPMI, it is evident that a large-scale biomarker study is not only possible in Parkinson’s disease, but is already yielding scientific insights that could help transform the field’s pursuit of a cure.”

Source: Michael J. Fox Foundation