6 June 2013

UCLB spinout company, Abcodia is collaborating with Cancer Research UK and its commercial arm, Cancer Research Technology (CRT 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) created at 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 aim 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, formerly Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at UCL, now the Vice President at the University of Manchester, Director 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.”

*The UKCTOCS Biobank
Created at UCL (University College London), UKCTOCS is the UK Collaborative trial for Ovarian Cancer Screening. The biobank derived from this trial contains over 5,000,000 serum samples, derived from more than 200,000 initially healthy volunteers. Since recruitment, more than 27,000 individuals have been diagnosed with cancer. A subset of the cohort (50,000 individuals) has provided samples annually, making this an ideal resource for identifying biomarkers for early cancer detection and screening.

About Abcodia
Abcodia is a specialist company engaged in the developing biomarkers for the early detection of cancer. The company has developed deep expertise in the methods and technology relevant to the discovery and validation of biomarkers that can be detected well before the symptomatic presentation of cancer. Through an exclusive commercial license to the UKCTOCS biobank, the company is able to use samples from this population cohort to develop a pipeline of diagnostic products for the early detection of a range of cancers.

For further information, please see: www.abcodia.com

About Cancer Research Technology
Cancer Research Technology (CRT) is a specialist commercialisation and development company, which aims to develop new discoveries in cancer research for the benefit of cancer patients. CRT works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. CRT facilitates the discovery, development and marketing of new cancer therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and enabling technologies. CRT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK, the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
  • The charity’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1861 or visit: www.cancerresearchuk.org

About UCLB
UCLB is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market.  UCLB supports UCL’s Grand Challenges of increasing UCL’s positive impact on and contribution to Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com