VolitionRX Limited, an international epigenetics company, has introduced a groundbreaking cancer detection method at ESMO 2023, the European Society for Medical Oncology’s annual congress. Detecting early-stage cancer-derived circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in blood is challenging due to its minuscule presence among predominantly normal DNA. Current detection methods involve DNA extraction, sequencing, and complex bioinformatics analysis.
However, Volition has pioneered a unique liquid biopsy method that physically isolates tumor-derived ctDNA fragments from blood. This method involves removing all normal background DNA of the same sequence and then detecting the cancer-derived ctDNA fragments using a cost-effective PCR test. Dr. Jake Micallef, Volition’s Chief Scientific Officer, mentioned that this innovative method, based on 13 years of research, uses Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) followed by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) testing to determine the presence of cancer.
Preliminary data showcased at ESMO 2023 indicates the successful isolation of tumor-derived ctDNA fragments from plasma. Initial clinical tests detected various cancers, including early-stage ones. For instance, the method identified 74% of leukemias with 96% specificity and 77% of colorectal cancers with 92% specificity using 2-qPCR assays.
Dr. Micallef emphasized that while the initial assays were developed using a leukemia model, they surprisingly detected other cancers as well. The results are promising, hinting at the discovery of a new class of biomarkers with numerous potential targets. Volition plans to develop more cancer-specific assays and will share updates starting in Q1 2024.
Dr. Michael Hubank, a notable figure in Translational Genomics, praised Volition’s method for its potential in accurate, rapid, and affordable cancer detection. He believes this test complements existing methods and could be pivotal in detecting early-stage diseases.