- Abcodia wins European Commission grant to advance early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
- Development of an innovative new early diagnostic for pancreatic cancer in healthy individuals at high risk of developing the disease
- Technology developed in collaboration with renowned biostatistician Prof Carlo Berzuini from The University of Manchester
Abcodia today announced that it has secured a grant from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme to validate an algorithm-based test for the screening of individuals at high risk of pancreatic cancer. The test will be one of the first examples of a personalised screening diagnostic and aims to improve survival rates in this devastating disease.
Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer as the physical symptoms of the disease tend not to show until it is advanced, by which time treatment options are limited. Although the disease is the 10th most-common cancer, it is the 5th most-common cause of cancer death. It is the only cancer with a predicted worsening mortality trend in Europe and the 5-year survival is only 3%. This figure has not improved over the last 40 years. New treatments are being developed, but what is critically needed is the ability to detect the disease early to help save lives.
A statistical algorithm within the test uses information from repeated CA19.9 measurements generated from a cohort of healthy volunteers, some of whom subsequently clinically presented with pancreatic cancer. Through its understanding of the dynamic changes in CA19.9 in the pre-diagnosis phases of this devastating cancer, the algorithm is able to accurately calculate the probability that an individual has pancreatic cancer, despite the absence of symptoms. The algorithm senses even modest and early changes from each individual’s CA19.9 baseline, and assesses these deviations as possible signs of pre-clinical disease. In contrast to traditional approaches where a biomarker level defines the presence or absence of disease using a fixed threshold, this method personalises the screening to each individual’s own baseline, for a more sensitive and earlier detection of the disease.
The technology was developed in collaboration with Professor Carlo Berzuini, Professor of Biostatistics at The University of Manchester, who is renowned for his innovative work in this field. Professor Berzuini is responsible for original developments in the Bayesian modeling of disease-event data and has developed novel methods for computing sequential predictions. He was head of the Royal Statistical Society Study Group in Bioinformatics (2008-2012).
Dr Julie Barnes, CEO of Abcodia, said: “I am delighted that the EC chose to support the development of this much needed test. The funds will help us form our clinical development plans and engage with clinical thought leaders in the early detection of pancreatic cancer from across the EU. We faced strong competition from companies across Europe and the funding is a testament to both the innovative nature of our test and to the clinical need in this terrible disease.”
The funding is from the phase-1 grants within the SME Instrument of the EC’s new Horizon 2020 scheme, which supports the formation of business and development plans of innovative SMEs. There were 208 applications within the call for Clinical Research for the Validation of Diagnostics Devices and Biomarkers. Of these, only 24 were selected for funding and Abcodia was one of only six successful companies based in the UK.
Abcodia is a specialist company engaged in 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. Abcodia has received investment from Albion Ventures and UCL Business. For further information please see www.abcodia.com
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