NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – UK firm ProKyma today announced a £482,000 ($783,211) grant from the National Institute for Health Research to further develop its technology to detect circulating tumor cells.
The funding will be used by the spinout of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory — a center of scientific excellence for the Ministry of Defence — to use its KymaSep technology to find a patient's specific cancer mutation.
KymaSep is a portable system based on an injection molded device. The technology automates the manipulation of magnetic particles to purify and concentrate low levels of circulating tumor cells in blood. After purification, the cancer cell can be sequenced, providing information that allows CTC numbers to be measured cost effectively, ProKyma said.
During treatment, CTC numbers should decrease and KymaSep would allow oncologists to change treatments or dosages if the CTC numbers do not go down, ProKyma said, adding that it has spent six years developing the technology.
With the NIHR funding, ProKyma seeks to develop KymaSep to the point where the company can raise Series A funding to manufacture the system by the end of 2014.
ProKyma is collaborating with a multi-disciplinary team "to deliver the challenging technical breakthroughs needed in this project." It has licensed from CellCap Technologies cell capture technology currently being optimized to harvest millions of stem cells for cellular therapies.
Working in collaboration with researchers at the University of Liverpool, ProKyma will adapt the technology for "the very low number of cell captures needed for CTC detection," the company said.
The Liverpool Pancreatic Biomedical Research Unit will optimize the method for capture, sequencing, and enumeration of CTC. The information will then be translated into a device for routine use. The device also will be tested against samples from the Liverpool Cancer Trials Unit to decipher its usefulness in real patient samples.