A U.K. startup is partnering with a Japanese company in what has become an increasingly important focus for diagnostics developers: tests that can spot lung cancer in its earliest stages when there is a chance to beat it back.
The Northern Echo reports that Cizzle Biotechnology has licensed its patents and tech for the test to Fujirebio Diagnostics, and both will work jointly to develop a blood test for early-stage lung cancer. Cizzle is a spin-out from York University in the U.K. Fujirebio Diagnostics, which is based in Malvern, PA, maintains operations in Sweden and Texas, and is a division of Japanese health care company Fujirebio.
As the article explains, their test will build on research developed at York University that identified a mutation of the Ciz1 protein in lung cancer. But what's crucial here is that the mutated protein is also present in patient blood samples, even if the lung cancer is early stage. (See the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for details of their research.)
Lung cancer, once it has advanced, is an almost certain death sentence. The story notes that long-term survival rates hover at around 5%, and that survival rate hasn't improved in 30-plus years. Earlier diagnosis enables treatment to hit the cancer sooner, theoretically boosting survival chances. And so a number of companies are developing new lung cancer diagnostics, but they are generally using varying approaches, and are targeting different aspects of the condition.
Allegro Diagnostics, for example, is hoping to gain FDA approval for its BronchoGen lung cancer genomic diagnostic, which has apparently shown promise with small lesions and early-stage lung cancer. Pfizer ($PFE), working with scientists in South Korea, are developing a diagnostic test that can quickly and cheaply identify patients who can benefit from the company's lung cancer drug Xalkori. Even GE Healthcare ($GE) is hard at work developing a lung cancer diagnostic, though this one would identify mutations in the ALK gene, which indicates lung and other cancers.
- read The Northern Echo story