Product News: OGT Granted Licence by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, to Develop and Commercialize Prostate Cancer Biomarker Panel

13 Mar 2013

Oxford Gene Technology (OGT), provider of innovative genetics research and biomarker solutions to advance molecular medicine, announced today that it has been granted a licence by The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, to further develop and commercialize a new panel of diagnostic and prognostic microRNA biomarkers for prostate cancer. The agreement follows a three-year collaboration between OGT and the ICR resulting in the joint discovery of the microRNA biomarkers. These markers have wide-ranging potential applications in diagnosis, prognosis, treatment planning and patient monitoring.

Currently, the biomarker prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal examination are used to test for prostate cancer and to determine whether a biopsy is required. However, increasing evidence1 indicates that PSA may not be an effective screening tool for prostate cancer due to a high false positive rate and an inability to distinguish between more aggressive and indolent cancers.

Unlike the present screening techniques, the biomarkers discovered by OGT and the ICR have a specificity of over 90% plus the potential to not only identify prostate cancer but also to assess its aggressiveness. This is important as it will allow treatment to be tailored to specific features of the cancer. At present, a diagnosis of prostate cancer can mean removal of the prostate and chemotherapy; patients with indolent cancer often receive, but do not require, such excessive treatment.

Dr Mike Evans, CEO at OGT, said: “We look forward to continuing our work with the ICR and developing this biomarker panel further. We are hopeful that these biomarkers will change the way that patients with prostate cancer are treated. OGT has a rapidly expanding portfolio of biomarkers for early disease detection which includes highly prevalent cancers of major clinical significance, including colorectal cancer.”

Colin Cooper, Professor of cancer genetics at the University of East Anglia, who led the study at the ICR, said: “OGT and the ICR have made significant progress. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men with over 240,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the US alone; we need to focus our efforts not only on ensuring accurate diagnosis but also individualized treatment tailored by prognosis.”

In addition to further validation of the biomarker panel in tissue samples, OGT is evaluating the panel in both blood and urine samples, with initial translation of the assay to blood-based PCR testing showing very encouraging results. OGT is currently reviewing potential options for future commercialization, including making the resulting test available through OGT’s service laboratories.

OGT supports Prostate Cancer Awareness Month ‘March is for men’ and Prostate Cancer UK. For more information visit click here.

1. Mayer, V.A., (2012) Screening for prostate cancer: U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med 157(2), 120-134