UK start-up Angle draws interest for newly approved cancer test

Leading pharmaceutical companies are lining up to deploy a breakthrough cancer test developed by British start-up Angle after it received the first regulatory approval of its kind in the US.

Angle’s liquid biopsy test captures live cancer cells in the blood, which doctors can use to personalize treatment by understanding the mutations and gene expression in each patient’s cancer.

Shares of the London-listed company soared nearly 60 percent on the day the Food and Drug Administration approved the test for use in metastatic breast cancer.

The Surrey-based start-up is already working with US drugmaker Abbott to use its test to identify patients who respond to its treatment, Herceptin. It is working on a trial in ovarian cancer and this week signed a deal with Philadelphia-based MidLantic Urology to study its test in prostate cancer.

Andrew Newland, chief executive, said other companies have approached Angle since it was released last week because the test allows them to track their progress while the drug fights tumors. Ultimately, it is hoped that they will develop diagnostics to accompany each drug.

“Our vision is that we will change the way cancer is diagnosed and treated worldwide for every type of cancer,” he said. “So we either have to be a very, very big company or, as we currently plan, we have to do a lot of deals with very big companies to do that.”

He said Angle wants to help clinicians who are “flying blind” trying to figure out what treatments a patient is responding to. In metastatic breast cancer, more than half of patients do not have a secondary site biopsy or undergo repeat biopsies. “The cancer changes over time, so the tissue biopsy is out of date,” he said.

Until now, harvesting these cancer cells has been a major challenge, as there are approximately one in every billion blood cells. The company, which grew out of an intellectual property commercialization consultancy, acquired the patents behind the test from George Hvichia, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.

Investments flowed into the nascent liquid biopsy market, funding for scientists hoping a simple blood test could replace more invasive methods of detecting and monitoring cancer. Gene sequencing company Illumina acquires a cancer testing group Grail for 8 billion dollarswhile other companies like Thrive and Freenome have raised large sums in private funding rounds.

Competitors are focused on developing tests that could be used to diagnose cancer patients early, before they show symptoms. This could be revolutionary, but it comes with risks as the tests have to be very accurate to avoid false positives.

In contrast, Angle focuses on tracking cancers that have already been diagnosed to provide more personalized treatment, and sells a testing product to labs rather than offering a service.

As demand increases, Angle plans to expand its workforce by 50 percent this year and double the size of its headquarters.

But Newland said there was far more appetite for the test in the US than there was in the UK’s NHS, despite having the EU’s CE mark.

The company has worked with leading UK cancer research centers such as Barts Cancer Institute but would like to roll it out more widely across the healthcare sector, where it has been “very, very difficult to get a foothold”.

“Unfortunately, we failed miserably. We tried it. But we find that all the traction is coming from the United States side, which is very disappointing,” he said. “We can even offer this test at a relatively low cost. . . but it’s just impossible to find someone capable of making a decision.”

UK start-up Angle draws interest for newly approved cancer test Source link UK start-up Angle draws interest for newly approved cancer test

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