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Proteomics to take cancer blood test to the world

Updated: Apr 17

Proteomics International Laboratories is looking to revolutionise the way that oesophageal cancer is diagnosed. Credit: File

Trailblazing medtech Proteomics International Laboratories has been chosen to put its oesophageal cancer blood test on global show at the 19th ISDE World Congress for Esophageal Diseases in the Canadian city of Toronto in September.

Management says its test targets oesophageal adenocarcinoma, which is the most common type of oesophageal cancer and grows in the lower part of the tube that carries food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. It also targets the pre-malignant condition “Barrett’s oesophagus” and the company’s research has been expanded to include an extra 350 cancer samples from the Victorian Cancer Biobank.

Proteomics’ blood test is building a history of strong performance, with an earlier version correctly identifying up to 90 per cent of patients with oesophageal adenocarcinoma in a sample size of 300 people from two independent cohorts.

The new 350 additional samples come after the signing of an agreement between Proteomics and the Victorian Cancer Biobank. The samples come from oesophageal and other selected patients and will be used for external validation of the company’s current version of its test, with the results to come next year.

This technology has the potential to act as a screening test for oesophageal adenocarcinoma, providing earlier diagnosis without the need for an invasive endoscopy. We believe an externally-validated test will garner significant interest, both commercially and in the clinic. Proteomics International Laboratories managing director Dr Richard Lipscombe

The company’s ground-breaking test uses biomarkers, often referred to as protein “fingerprints” in the blood to identify both oesophageal adenocarcinoma and Barrett’s oesophagus. An estimated 10 to 15 per cent of patients with chronic acid reflux develop Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition which is asymptomatic and affects one to two per cent of Western populations.

People with Barrett’s oesophagus have been found to have a much higher likelihood of developing oesophageal adenocarcinoma, a condition which has been identified as an area of significant unmet medical need. Screening currently requires a specialist endoscopy procedure that costs US$2750 (AU$4024) per patient in the United States, where the total expenditure on treating oesophageal cancer was US$2.9 billion (AU$4.24 billion) in 2018.

Studies have pegged the overall five-year survival rate for the cancer at less than 20 per cent. One in 20 cancer deaths worldwide in 2018 were attributed to oesophageal cancer.

But Proteomics is continuing to make headway with its predictive tests. In May, the company secured a key partner for the looming rollout of its PromarkerD predictive test to fight kidney disease after signing an exclusive licence deal with Sonic Healthcare USA.

The company says its test could help the estimated 32 million adults in the US – 11 per cent of that country’s population – who live with diabetes, by identifying their risk of developing kidney disease.

PromarkerD is a prognostic test that can predict future kidney function decline in patients living with type 2 diabetes, but who have no existing diabetic kidney disease.

Proteomics says clinical studies published in leading journals show PromarkerD correctly predicted up to 86 per cent of otherwise healthy diabetics who went on to develop diabetic kidney disease within four years.

The company has other tests in development to potentially test for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetic retinopathy and oxidative stress.

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