RVINE, CA, and HERSTAL, BELGIUM – MDxHealth SA (Euronext: MDXH.BR), today announced that it has signed a scientific agreement with QUT bluebox, the commercialization arm of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), to develop a liquid biopsy epigenetic assay for the early detection of oral cancer.
Oral cancer has a significant global incidence with approximately over 20,000 cases diagnosed annually in the US alone. Early detection is key to survival, but noticeable symptoms appear at a more advanced stage when there is a less favorable prognosis. Currently, there are no US screening guidelines for head and neck cancers or proven blood or saliva-based diagnostic tests.
“Our test is expected to facilitate much earlier detection of oral cancer and potentially precancerous lesions by a variety of specialties including general practioners, oncologists and dentists,” said Associate Prof. Dr. Chamindie Punyadeera from QUT’s School of Biomedical Sciences and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), lead investigator on this project. “After collecting a saliva swab, samples will be sent to a lab or tested on site to determine if a patient requires clinical follow up.”
The test evaluates abnormal DNA methylation changes which is an early event seen in tumor progression. Methylation of DNA is one way that cells regulate gene activity and abnormal methylation indicates a patient may have a higher risk of developing cancer.
“A simple and fast point of care test could help dentists to rule-out oral cancer while you have your dental checkup,” said Dr. Jan Groen, CEO of MDxHealth. “This scientific collaboration is an opportunity for both MDxHealth and QUT to leverage existing know-how to develop a ground-breaking oral cancer test that will improve overall survival for thousands of patients.”
Under the terms of the agreement, MDxHealth will collaborate with QUT to evaluate and develop the test and MDxHealth will have the first option to license the commercial diagnostics rights. Proceeds will be used to support MDxHealth’s R&D pipeline for diagnostics in urologic cancers and to support further research and translational activities at QUT and IHBI.