Research by QMUL which assesses blood samples in the prognosis of prostate cancer, has been granted a European patent through Aim-listed liquid biopsy company, ANGLE plc.

QMUL published research in Clinical Cancer Research in 2017 using ANGLE’s Parsortix® system showing that the number of megakaryocyte cells in the blood of prostate cancer patients correlates closely with increased patient survival. This was the first time the presence of these cells in patient blood has been shown to be connected to cancer prognosis and to date no competing system has published success in this area.

ANGLE holds an option agreement, exercisable until 14 June 2021, for an exclusive worldwide licence over the use of its megakaryocyte intellectual property. Grant of the European patent protects the Company’s ability to offer a megakaryocyte-based test in Europe. Similar patents are being pursued in the United States as well as other major territories.

The investigation of megakaryocytes in patient blood opens up the potential for a whole new area for cancer prognosis and, at present, ANGLE’s patented Parsortix system is the only automated system that has demonstrated the capability of harvesting megakaryocytes. Alternative liquid biopsy approaches such as ctDNA (fragments of dead cells) cannot assess the presence of megakaryocytes.

ANGLE now has the potential for intellectual property protection over the upstream megakaryocyte cell capture technology (its existing Parsortix IP) and the downstream megakaryocyte analysis technology (via its option over the patent grant announced today).

The Parsortix system has previously been shown to be capable of harvesting mesenchymal circulating tumor cells (CTCs), which are linked to a poor patient outcome. Circulating megakaryocytes are linked to a more favourable patient outcome. Combining these two factors may provide new insights into assessing the prognosis of prostate cancer patients, allowing stratified treatment.

Andrew Newland, ANGLE Founder and Chief Executive, said: “We welcome the acceptance of this European patent and are excited by the potential for this entirely new way of assessing cancer through a simple blood test that has been enabled by ANGLE’s Parsortix system.  We will now be investigating the possibility of adding megakaryocyte tests to our existing CTC tests as part of our sample-to-answer imaging solution under development.”

Dr Michele Hill-Perkins, Head of Technology Transfer Biopharma at Queen Mary Innovation

Dr Michele Hill-Perkins, Head of Technology Transfer Biopharma at Queen Mary Innovation Ltd, added: “We are pleased to see the grant of the European patent for the analysis of megakaryocytes in patient blood as a prognostic biomarker with the potential to open up new avenues in the fight against cancer. We look forward to working with ANGLE to bring this analysis to patients as soon as possible.”

Dr Yong-Jie Lu, Professor in Molecular Oncology at Barts Cancer Institute, and the Principal Investigator for the megakaryocytes discovery said: “We believe megakaryocytes in patient blood may play a key role in the body’s immune response to all solid cancer types, not just prostate cancer. We are currently investigating this hypothesis in several other cancer types to maximise the potential of megakaryocyte analysis.”