Australian medical diagnostics company Rhythm Biosciences (ASX: RHY) has confirmed the antibodies in a lead biomarker of a blood test for the accurate and early detection of colorectal cancer have been successfully validated, stabilised and proven to be reproduceable.
The biomarker can differentiate between cancerous and healthy blood samples and makes up the principal ingredient for the company’s ColoSTAT first step screening test.
It is known to be a major contributor to the algorithm which generates a colorectal cancer risk score for an individual.
ColoSTAT is anticipated to achieve greater patient participation and compliance than faecal tests alone.
Chief executive officer Glenn Gilbert said the company would now focus on the development and optimisation of adjunct biomarkers to support the lead biomarker.
“In addition to potentially replacing or working as an adjunct to current blood-in-faeces testing, ColoSTAT will enable the reading of cancerous samples,” he said.
“We believe a simple blood test should improve the current poor compliance record of the faecal immunochemical test, saving lives and healthcare costs globally.”
Validation, stabilisation and reproduction of the biomarker had significantly derisked Rhythm’s technology from a scientific perspective.
The company will be working with its partners to establish any adverse economic impacts of the current coronavirus environment.
“We are working with suppliers, consultants, hospitals and manufacturers to assess any impact they are experiencing on their operations and how that impacts [our own] ongoing research and development,” Mr Gilbert said.
Colorectal cancer is currently the second largest cause of cancer deaths in Australia, Europe and the US, and the third largest cause of cancer-related deaths globally.
A number of countries have introduced screening programs targeted at reducing morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs associated with the illness.
In Australia, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program was developed to detect colorectal cancer and enable early intervention, improve treatment outcomes and rein in associated health costs with treating the disease in its later stages.
Estimates show around 250 million people worldwide between 50 and 75 years of age have been recommended for regular screening, yet the majority remain under-screened.
Mr Gilbert said ColoSTAT has an important role to play in improving the screening statistics.
“We strongly believe ColoSTAT has a global market, and could be added to the standard panel of blood tests a doctor may run for their patients as part of their annual check-up,” he said.
“It also has the potential to attract reimbursement by governments and health insurance companies worldwide.”
Rhythm has been granted patents for the diagnosis of colorectal cancer in Australia, China, Europe and Japan, and has patent applications pending in the US, Brazil and India.