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Proteomics takes forward step with blood test diagnosis

Updated: Apr 17


Proteomics International Laboratories’ technology could revolutionise the early detection of some diseases and potentially save or extend lives. Credit: File

Proteomics International Laboratories is showcasing its latest diagnostic milestones for endometriosis and oesophageal cancer in front of Australia and New Zealand’s field-leading researchers at a symposium in Victoria.


The company says its latest clinical results demonstrate “robust evidence” for the inclusion of its biomarker panels in its bid to produce breakthrough diagnostic blood tests for both of the severe conditions. It is this week presenting the results from its research with a second independent patient group to the 29th annual Lorne Proteomics Symposium.


Endometriosis affects an estimated one in seven women and girls in Australia, often causing pain and infertility, with diagnosis currently taking an average of 7.5 years. There is currently no simple test for endometriosis, a condition that costs Australia some $9.7 billion each year, and the current detection test is an invasive abdominal surgical laparoscopy for a tissue biopsy.


Oesophageal cancer is the sixth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, the seventh-most common cancer globally and has a less than a 20 per cent five-year survival rate following diagnosis. One in 20 cancer deaths worldwide in 2018 were attributed to the disease.


Proteomics’ simple blood tests use biomarkers, which it describes as protein “fingerprints” in a patient’s blood.


Management says its “PromarkerEndo” blood test for endometriosis, in a study last year with more than 901 participants, identified up to 90 per cent of patients suffering moderate or severe forms of the condition when compared to those without the disease.


The company says it proved with its second cohort of 288 patients from the St John of God Subiaco Hospital Gynaecological Cancer Research Group that its previously-identified biomarkers change in concentration as the severity of endometriosis increases.


In regards to its “PromarkerEso” oesophageal cancer studies with 300 patients across two cohorts, also last year, Proteomics says it identified 89 per cent of patients with the disease and 92 per cent without it. Management says its second round of studies with 165 patients drawn from the Victorian Cancer Biobank, who were suffering clinically-diagnosed oesophageal adenocarcinoma, also proved its change in biomarker concentration objective.


The PromarkerEso test targets oesophageal cancer and the pre-malignant condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus, which affects up to two per cent of adults and can be precipitated by chronic acid reflux.


Proteomics says the results showed “excellent” statistical significance of multiple biomarkers in diagnosing both conditions. Management said all 10 proteins analysed were found to be significantly associated with disease status and from the 32 peptides, 25 of them (78 per cent) showed significant association with disease status.


The results presented at the conference are exciting and further strengthen the diagnostic performance of PromarkerEso and PropmarkerEndo. Confirming the clinical performance of the biomarkers in a second independent patient group was a critical milestone in the development of our potential breakthrough blood test. Proteomics International Laboratories managing director Dr Richard Lipscombe

Dr Lipscombe said the next step in bringing the company’s blood tests to the clinic would be to pursue a bigger validation study to confirm diagnostic accuracy, a move which was already progressing.


The current detection of oesophageal cancer usually requires a specialist endoscopy, which can cost up to US$2750 (AU$3600) per patient in the United States. The total expenditure on treating oesophageal cancer was US$2.9 billion (AU$3.85 billion) in 2018.


In particular, patients with Barrett’s oesophagus are much more likely to contract oesophageal cancer and are currently advised to have regular endoscopies to screen for the disease.


If biomarkers can be identified by a simple blood test, Proteomics’ novel “Promarker” series of tests may soon offer the potential for early screening to identify the onset of many diseases and eliminate the need for invasive diagnostic procedures or worse. And that would bring more peace to many families around the world.


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