The primary screening tool for colorectal cancer in the UK is the fecal occult blood test. The test is based on determining the presence or absence of blood in a patients stool sample. Although the test does not diagnose colorectal cancer, a positive test will result in further evaluation of the patient. However, colorectal cancer is not the only reason for the presence of blood in the stools. For every 10 people who undergo a colonoscopy based on a positive result, 7 will go on to have a normal result, causing unnecessary concern to the patient and cost implications to the NHS.
There is a need for appropriate screening or surveillance programmes for the early detection of cancer. Interest has been growing around the investigation of biomarkers present in patients who suffer from colorectal cancer (aberrant hypermethylation of CpG islands).
“This licensing agreement gives OGT exclusive access to genetic markers which are associated with colorectal cancer.” stated Mike Evans, CEO, of OGT. “We believe that developing tests that include these genetic markers will permit the earlier identification of patients at risk of this disease and allow for more timely diagnosis and clinical interventions.” He added, “The higher specificity of this new panel of markers could provide a more robust screening tool than the tests currently used, while eventually lowering overall costs, which would be of significant benefit for both patients and the clinicians using them.”
The exclusive agreement will allow OGT to commercialize any resulting test developed using 12 highly promising DNA methylation biomarkers which were developed in the laboratory of Professor Ragnhild A. Lothe, in the department of Cancer Prevention, the Norwegian Radium Hospital, part of the Oslo University Hospital.