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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

Promising Screening Tool for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer

Evaluating its change over time, CA-125, the protein long-recognized for predicting ovarian cancer recurrence, now shows promise as a screening tool for early-stage disease, according to researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The updated findings are published in Cancer; preliminary data were first presented at the 2010 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting. If a larger study shows survival benefit, the simple blood test could offer a much-needed screening tool to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages – even in the most aggressive forms – in post-menopausal women at average risk for the disease.

MD Anderson has a long history in the research of the important biomarker. In the 1980s, Robert Bast, M.D., vice president for translational research at MD Anderson and co-investigator on the ASCO study, discovered CA-125 and its predictive value of ovarian cancer recurrence. Since then, researchers at MD Anderson and beyond have been trying to determine its role in early disease detection. The marker, however, can become elevated for reasons other than ovarian cancer, leading to false positives in early screening.

“Over the last ten years, there’s been a lot of excitement over new markers and technologies in ovarian cancer,” said Karen Lu, M.D., professor and chair, Department of Gynecologic Oncology and the study’s corresponding author. “I and other scientists in the gynecologic oncology community thought we would ultimately find a better marker than CA-125 for the early detection of the disease. After looking at new markers and testing them head-to-head in strong, scientific studies, we found no marker better than CA-125.”

According to the American Cancer Society, 22,240 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 and another 14,030 are expected to die from the disease. The challenge, explained Lu, is that more than 70 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced disease.

“Finding a screening mechanism would be the Holy Grail in the fight against ovarian cancer, because when caught early it is not just treatable, but curable,” said Lu, also the trial’s principal investigator.

For the prospective, single-arm, 11-year study, 4,051 women were enrolled from seven sites across the country, with MD Anderson serving as the lead site. All were healthy, post-menopausal women, ages 50-74, with no strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. The study’s primary endpoint was specificity, or few false positives. In addition, the study looked at the positive predictive value, or the number of operations required to detect a case of ovarian cancer.

Each woman received a baseline CA-125 blood-test. Using the Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA), a mathematical model based on the patient’s age and CA-125 score, women were stratified to one of three risks groups, with the respective follow-up: “low,” came back in a year for a follow-up blood test; “intermediate,” further monitoring with repeat CA-125 blood test in three months; and “high,” referred to receive transvaginal sonography (TVS) and to see a gynecologic oncologist.

Based on the women’s CA-125 change over time, the average annual rate of referral to the intermediate and high groups were 5.8 percent and .9 percent, respectively. Cumulatively, 117 women (2.9 percent) were determined to be high risk, and thereby received the TVS and were referred to a gynecologic oncologist. Of those women, 10 underwent surgery: four had invasive ovarian cancer; two had borderline disease; one had endometrial cancer and three had benign ovarian tumors – a positive predictive value of 40 percent, which greatly surpasses the clinical benchmark of 10 percent, say the researchers. The specificity of the test was 99.9 percent, explained Lu. The screening failed to detect two borderline ovarian cancers.

Of great importance, said Lu, is that the four invasive ovarian cancers detected were high-grade epithelial tumors, the most aggressive form of the disease, and were caught early (stage IC or IIB), when the disease is not only treatable, but most often curable. Lu also noted that all four women found to have invasive disease were monitored at low risk for three years or more prior to a rising CA-125.

“CA-125 is shed by only 80 percent of ovarian cancers,” explained Bast, the study’s senior author. “At present, we are planning a second trial that will evaluate a panel with four blood tests including CA-125 to detect the cancers we may otherwise miss with CA-125 alone. The current strategy is not perfect, but it appears to be a promising first step.”

While encouraging, the findings are neither definitive, nor immediately practice-changing, stressed Lu; who also said a large, randomized prospective screening trial still needs to be conducted. Such research is ongoing in the United Kingdom; results from more than 200,000 women should be known by 2015.

“As a clinician treating women with this disease for more than ten years, I’ve become an admitted skeptic of ovarian cancer screening. Now, with these findings, I’m cautiously optimistic that in the not too distant future, we may be able to offer a screening method that can detect the disease in its earliest, curable stages and make a difference in the lives of women with this now-devastating disease.”

The study is continuing; and, as follow-up, Lu and her team plan to look at combining other markers with CA-125 to determine the screening impact of their combined change over time.

The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute, and was a research project of MD Anderson’s ovarian cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), NCI P50 CA83639, the Bioinformatics Shared Resources of MD Anderson CCSG NCI P30 CA16672, the National Foundation for Cancer Research. It has also received philanthropic funds from Golfers Against Cancer, the Tracy Jo Wilson Ovarian Cancer Foundation, the Mossy Foundation, the Norton family and Stuart and Gaye Lynn Zarrow.

In addition to Lu, and Bast, other authors on the study include: Therese Bevers, M.D. Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, Herbert Fritsche, Ph.D., Department of Laboratory Medicine, Deepak Bedi, M.D., Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Michael T. Deavers, M.D., Department of Pathology and Clinical Pathology; Charlotte Sun, Dr.PH, Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Mary A. Hernandez, Office of Translational Research, all with MD Anderson; Steven Skates, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Olasunkanmi Adeyinka, M.D., UT Physicians Family Physicians; William Newland, M.D., The Iowa Clinic; Richard Moore, M.D. and Cornelius Granai, M.D., both with Women & Infants Hospital, Brown University; Leroy Leeds, M.D., OGA Medical Center; Steven Harris, M.D., OB/GYN Associates of Dallas; Jeremy Geffen, M.D., Geffen Cancer Research Institute; and Nora Horick, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

As a co-inventor of the CA-125, Bast receives royalties from, and has served as an advisor to, Fujirebio Diagnostics, Inc.

Study: A 2-stage ovarian cancer screening strategy using the Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA) identifies early-stage incident cancers and demonstrates high positive predictive value [Cancer]

Source: MD Anderson Cancer Center

New Risk Score Predicts 10-Year Dementia Risk for Type 2 Diabetes Patients

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente and the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands have created the first risk score that predicts the 10-year individualized dementia risk for patients with type 2 diabetes, as reported in the inaugural issue of Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

The researchers developed and validated the Diabetes-Specific Dementia Risk Score by examining data from nearly 30,000 patients with type 2 diabetes aged 60 and older over a 10-year period. They found eight factors that were most predictive of dementia — including microvascular disease, diabetic foot and cerebrovascular disease — and assigned each a value related to their association with dementia to create an overall score for patients. The researchers found that individuals in the lowest category of the 20-point risk score had a 5.3 percent chance of developing dementia over the next 10 years, while those in the highest category had a 73 percent chance. Compared with those in the lowest category, those in the highest were 37 times more likely to get dementia, according to the study.

“Patients with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop dementia as those without the disease, but predicting who has the highest future risk is difficult,” said Rachel Whitmer, PhD, an epidemiologistat the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., who led the study. “While a few dementia risk scores exist, this is the first one that has been developed specifically for individuals with type 2 diabetes and encompasses diabetes-specific characteristics.”

All predictors included in the Diabetes-Specific Dementia Risk Score are easy to obtain and based primarily on medical history, so the risk score can be calculated during a routine medical visit or with electronic health records. No labor-intensive or expensive tests, such as cognitive function or brain imaging, are required.

“This risk score is crucial for the care of patients with diabetes since they are particularly susceptible to dementia. It provides clinicians with an easy and efficient tool to assess their patients’ chances of developing dementia over the next 10 years,” Whitmer said. “Early detection of diabetes patients who are at increased future risk of dementia could help to develop and target preventive treatment.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, with type 2 diabetes in particular accounting for more than 90 percent of these cases. In addition to being a risk factor for dementia, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputations and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.

“The risk score could be useful in the selection of high-risk patients for early intervention studies and for many applications of personalized medicine,” said Geert Jan Biessels, MD, professor of neurology at the University Medical Centre Utrecht and co-author of the study. “Clinicians can use it to guide their decisions in terms of clinical attention to incipient cognitive impairment which makes people vulnerable to dangerous side effects of diabetes treatment. The risk score will also help us to understand the causes of diabetes associated increased dementia risk, because we can examine those at high risk in early stages of the dementia process.”

Study: Risk score for prediction of 10 year dementia risk in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a cohort study [Lancet]

Source: Kaiser Permanente

Precision Therapeutics Announces Unparalleled Results That Show Recurrent Ovarian Cancer Patients Live 65% Longer in Breakthrough Prospective Clinical Trial

Precision Therapeutics, Inc., a life science company dedicated to developing personalized medicine products for individualized cancer care, recently announced that compelling results have been accepted for publication in Gynecologic Oncology, a leading, peer-reviewed clinical oncology journal. The accepted study is currently located on the Gynecologic Oncology website.

The prospective study, conducted in conjunction with Yale University School of Medicine and over 30 additional cancer centers nationwide, showed that recurrent ovarian cancer patients treated with a chemotherapy identified as sensitive by the ChemoFx® drug response assay lived 14-months longer, a (65%) improvement in overall survival, as compared to patients treated by non-sensitive chemotherapies classified by ChemoFx.

Additionally, ChemoFx was able to identify at least one sensitive chemotherapy agent for more than half of the recurrent ovarian cancer patients studied, approximately doubling current statistics suggesting that only 20 to 30 percent of cancer patients with recurrent ovarian cancer benefit when treated with chemotherapy chosen empirically.

262 evaluable patients were treated with one of 15 study-designated standard chemotherapy treatments selected by the treating oncologist, who was not informed of the ChemoFx results. When blinded to the results of the assay, physicians treated 25% of patients with a sensitive chemotherapy, while more than half (52%) of the study participants showed at least one assay-sensitive chemotherapy from which they could have benefited had the physician been assay-informed. The data implies that if ChemoFx results were utilized by physicians prior to treatment, the number of patients receiving sensitive treatments, and thereby experiencing improved survival outcomes, could have more than doubled. The study clearly shows that patients treated with sensitive chemotherapies identified by ChemoFx outperformed patients treated with alternate chemotherapies.

Median progression free survival also improved by 50% for patients treated with sensitive chemotherapies as identified by ChemoFx vs. those treated with non-sensitive agents (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.67, p = 0.009). The association with assay response was consistent in both platinum-sensitive and platinum-resistant tumors (HR: 0.71 vs. 0.66) and was independent of other covariates in multivariate analysis (HR = 0.66, p = 0.020). A statistically significant 14-month improvement in median overall survival (37.5 months for patients treated with sensitive agents vs. 23.9 months for who were not, HR = 0.61, p = 0.010) was also reported.

“This clinical study is a landmark for the treatment of ovarian cancer because it is the first prospective data that definitively shows that a personalized diagnostic test can make a significant clinical impact by improving overall survival by 65% in women with this devastating cancer,” said Thomas J. Rutherford MD, PhD, Professor of ObGyn and Reproductive Sciences and Section Chief, Gynecologic Oncology at the Yale School of Medicine, and lead investigator in the study.

ChemoFx results show a dramatic difference when compared to recent recurrent ovarian cancer studies that produced limited improvements in progression free survival (2-3 months), and very few if any improvement in overall survival (2 months)2-14

This breakthrough study shows that through the use of the ChemoFx assay, treating physicians can treat with effective chemotherapy drugs which may help extend the life of patients afflicted with this disease. No recent test, therapy or innovation compares in terms of impact on patient’s lives and it is reason for new hope for the treatment of this disease.

“The clinical significance of this study is that ChemoFx may have predictive abilities, enabling a physician to choose the most effective pharmaceutical treatment from among the available options for ovarian cancer,” said Robert Holloway, MD, Medical Director of Florida Hospital Gynecologic Oncology.

Study: A prospective study evaluating the clinical relevance of a chemoresponse assay for treatment of patients with persistent or recurrent ovarian cancer [Gynecologic Oncology]

Source: Business Wire

Biomarkers Predict Time to Ovarian Cancer Recurrence

Ovarian cancer often remains undetected until it is at an advanced stage. Despite positive responses to initial treatment, many patients are at risk of tumor recurrence. A multitude of genetic markers have been implicated in ovarian cancer prognosis. However, the genetic testing required is not practical or affordable in a clinical setting.

In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Roel Verchaak and colleagues at the MD Anderson Cancer Center identify protein biomarkers that are predictive for time of ovarian cancer recurrence and develop a PRotein-driven index of OVARian cancer (PROVAR).

Using PROVAR, the authors were able to discriminate between patients with high and low risk of cancer recurrence, as well as short-term and long-term survival prognosis. In combination with genetic diagnosis, analysis of protein biomarkers may be useful in predicting outcome and determining a treatment plan for ovarian cancer patients.

Study: Predicting time to ovarian carcinoma recurrence using protein markers [Journal of Clinical Investigation]

Source: EurekAlert!