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Ovarian cancer diagnostic test hope

Study shows positive results for blood test to identify ovarian cancer early

US biotech, MabCure, has announced that its proprietary monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) have successfully identified ovarian cancer in blood with 94 per cent accuracy, with no false positives or cross-reactions with benign ovarian tumours or healthy blood, in a confirmatory study. The company says its serum diagnostic test is the first to recognise the unique tumour markers, or cancer fingerprints, present only in ovarian cancer.

"The availability of a simple blood test with the ability to diagnose the presence of ovarian cancer early and to differentiate it from benign tumours has the potential to save thousands of lives and reduce the need for unnecessary surgeries," said Dr Amnon Gonenne, CEO of MabCure. "Our findings are an important step in that direction and also have significant implications for the future development of cancer-specific targeted therapies."

According to the US National Cancer Institute, just 15 per cent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed and treated early, when the five-year survival rate is 94 per cent. Unfortunately, the majority of women are diagnosed after the disease has already metastasised, when the five-year survival rate drops to 23 per cent.

MabCure's MAbs recognise markers or antigens that are apparently unique to all cancer cells of a given type. The study, along with a growing body of research, suggests a shift towards treatments that target only cancer cells without harming normal cells.

MabCure conducted a blinded study of several of its ovarian cancer MAbs against 54 different blood samples in collaboration with the Department of Gynaecological Oncology at UZ Hospital in Leuven, Belgium. These comprised 17 patients with ovarian cancer, five patients with benign tumours of the ovaries, 24 healthy young females and eight males. Results showed that each MAb correctly diagnosed 16 of the 17 ovarian cancers, with a diagnostic sensitivity of 94 per cent and a 100 per cent correct diagnosis of benign tumours.

This study confirms the findings of an earlier study, which demonstrated the ability of each antibody tested to detect low levels of ovarian cancer-specific antigens in the blood of patients.

MabCure is to conduct a follow-on study in collaboration with women's cancer expert, Dr Ignace Vergote, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Gynaecologic Oncology at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, following which it plans to launch a multi-centre prospective trial in Europe and the US.

The company is currently evaluating the diagnostic potential of it MAbs in detecting ovarian cancer in high-risk patients in a clinical study in Thailand.

28th July 2010

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