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Hong Kong Startup Licenses Nasopharyngeal Cancer Early Detection Technology From Grail

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Hong Kong-based startup Take2 Health said today that it has licensed intellectual property from Grail for the early detection of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Chinese University of Hong Kong researchers Dennis Lo, Rossa Chiu, and Allen Chan founded Take2 and have entered into a definitive agreement with Grail for the exclusive worldwide rights to an IP portfolio for early detection of NPC.

Additional details of the licensing agreement were not disclosed.

In a 20,000-person study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2017, Lo's team at CUHK demonstrated that using PCR to look for cell-free DNA from the Epstein-Barr virus, which typically turns up in NPC tumors, could help identify the cancer early.

Since that initial study, the CUHK team has improved the method and developed a sequencing-based approach. It also licensed the technology to Grail, which had originally planned to commercialize and launch the assay in Hong Kong in 2018 but ultimately delayed the launch.

Now, startup Take2 will commercialize the NPC early-detection test. "Our initial focus will be making our early-detection technology for NPC widely accessible to those who need it most," Lo said in a statement. He added that NPC is most prevalent in China and other Asian countries and "is a deadly cancer as the majority of cases are diagnosed at late stages."