Angle's Parsortix system used in more groundbreaking research
Liquid biopsy company Angle announced on Friday that its ‘Parsortix’ system has been utilised in further groundbreaking new cancer research, demonstrating the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) as part of large circulating tumor cell (CTC) clusters, which are 50x more likely to generate metastasis than single CTCs, for the first time.
The AIM-traded firm said the research, led by professor Dario Marchetti at the Biomarker Research Program, Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas in conjunction with the Center for Precision Health at the University of Texas and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, was published as a peer-reviewed publication in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
It said the research investigated metastatic breast and melanoma cancers, and found that the Parsortix system harvested large CTC clusters comprising between 10 and 30 cells in 100% of the patient samples.
In contrast, a leading antibody CTC system was unable to capture large CTC clusters in any samples, and only identified small CTC clusters comprising between two and three cells in less than 50% of the samples.
The research work investigated the role of MDSCs in CTC clusters for the first time, Angle explained.
MDSCs were a subset of the body's immune cells, which it said were distinct from neutrophils which had been separately studied by other Angle customers, and provided the body with a sophisticated mechanism to balance an extensive immune response to protect from excessive tissue damage and autoimmune disorders.
MDSCs interacted with other immune cell types including T cells, dendritic cells, macrophages and natural killer cells to regulate their functions.
The board said that unfortunately, cancer cells could take an advantage of those immunosuppressive mechanisms to protect themselves against the body's anti-cancer immune responses.
Investigation of the role of MDSCs in CTC clusters was “seminal” work because, instead of assisting the patient's immune system to combat the cancer, the MDSCs actually played a number of key roles in promoting cancer metastasis by suppressing the body's immune response to the cancer, enhancing CTC survival and proliferation, and increasing CTC metastatic potency and dissemination.
The company said the research work investigated each of those factors.
A key finding was that, when CTCs were cultured, the addition of MDSCs led to an increase in the number of CTCs by a factor of 10 compared to a control CTC culture without the addition.
The development of metastasis - the spread of cancer to distant sites primarily via the blood - was responsible for more than 90% of all cancer-related deaths.
If metastasis could be suppressed by disrupting the role of the MDSCs in the CTC clusters, then Angle claimed patient outcomes could be dramatically improved.
It said its Parsortix system had once again been shown to have key advantages in harvesting CTC clusters, expanding the potential use of the system in the growing CTC cluster research field with the prospect of routine use as a companion diagnostic for immunotherapy and other drugs to disrupt CTC clusters.
“This study is the first to demonstrate the detection and functionality of naïve, heterotypic clusters consisting of CTCs and circulatory MDSCs directly isolated from the peripheral blood of metastatic cancer patients,” said professor Dario Marchetti.
“This opens up a whole new area of research with the prospect of stabilizing cancer progression to reduce its spread or metastasis.
“The Parsortix state-of-the-art technology platform played a key role in enabling us to directly capture/isolate heterotypic CTC clusters from patients' blood for downstream interrogation.”
Angle founder and chief executive officer Andrew Newland added that investigation into CTC clusters and their impact on metastasis - an area where the Parsortix system was “strongly” differentiated - was beginning to take off with further seminal work by another one of the company’s leading customers.
“This work identifies the role of immune suppressor cells within the CTC cluster highlighting key new areas for drug development with the potential for Parsortix to be routinely used as a companion diagnostic.
“Our ultimate aim is for the Parsortix system to be routinely used for all cancer patients in the future.”