Australian team aims to create dialysis-like blood filtration system to treat cancer

Clearcell FX System--Courtesy of Clearbridge BioMedics

A team of Australian researchers is developing a blood test for diagnosing cancer. Interest in liquid biopsies is reaching the saturation point, but they have bigger ambitions: to turn their diagnostic into a therapy.

Their diagnostic is in U.S. and global clinical trials and will be commercialized by Singapore's Clearbridge BioMedics as the Clearcell FX System. It can make diagnoses at one-tenth the cost of competing technologies, reports Fresh Science, a website dedicated to scientific research in Australia.

The device can already separate circulating tumor cells from red and white blood cells in the bloodstream. Circulating tumor cells are fragments of solid tumors that spread cancer to new areas of the body; thus, the diagnostic also has potential applications to monitor the progression of the disease following treatment.

The team wants to scale up the device so that it can filter the entire bloodstream (rather than just enough for making a diagnosis). Then, the filtered blood would be sent back into the patient's body, as is done in the case of dialysis to treat kidney failure.

"A therapeutic version of this system, used for blood cleansing, could make the cancer a chronic disease and decrease drastically its mortality rate," said project leader Dr. Majid Warkiani of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at the University of New South Wales.

Turning cancer into a chronic disease would be achieved by the continuous filtration of cancerous cells in the bloodstream, but Warkiani warned that there "there is still a long way to go--including securing money and support in Australia--before this is possible."

In a 2013 series B round led by Vertex Ventures, commercialization partner Clearbridge BioMedics raised 9 million Singapore dollars ($7.2 million at the time's exchanges rates), making it one of the country's most well-funded healthcare companies.

Clearbridge BioMedics launched the ClearCell FX System for research purposes at the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

- read the article in Fresh Science

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