22 February 2017
NetScientific plc: Vortex Biosciences Announces Commercial Launch of Fully Automated Liquid Biopsy System for CTC Isolation
London, UK – NetScientific plc (AIM:NSCI), the transatlantic healthcare IP commercialisation Group, announces that its portfolio company, Vortex Biosciences, has begun the commercial launch of the VTX1 Liquid Biopsy System; its fully automated benchtop system for collecting intact circulating tumour cells (CTCs) that are shed by tumours, using patented innovative microfluidic technology.
NetScientific shareholding in Vortex is 95% and as of 31 December 2016, the Group has invested £13.1 million. Grant funding received to develop the underlying technology, prior to Vortex’s formation, was £1.6 million.
“We are pleased to announce the commercial launch of Vortex’s VTX-1 Liquid Biopsy System into research labs. We believe the technology has several key advantages over current approaches to CTC isolation and has the potential to make a meaningful impact on cancer research and assist the development of innovative diagnostics and therapeutics. The commercial launch is a critical milestone for Vortex and brings our portfolio company closer to significant value creation.”
François R. MarteletChief Executive Officer of NetScientific
Vortex Biosciences Announces Commercial Launch of Fully Automated System for CTC Isolation
VTX-1 Liquid Biopsy System’s Innovative Approach Represents the Next Step in CTC Isolation Systems
MENLO PARK, CA, February 21 – Vortex Biosciences announced the commercial launch of the VTX-1 Liquid Biopsy System, a fully automated benchtop system for collecting intact circulating tumor cells (CTCs) that are shed by tumors, using microfluidic technology. The VTX-1 is being launched at the Molecular Medicine Tri Conference (Tri-Con) Annual Meeting 2017 (February 19–24 San Francisco).
The VTX-1 utilizes microfluidics to automate the isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) directly from whole blood based on the greater deformability and larger size of the CTCs. Shed by tumors into the circulation, CTCs offer a window into cancer biology. Isolating and characterizing CTCs gives researchers new insight and the potential to transform our understanding of cancer and improve the way cancer is diagnosed and treated.
Capturing CTCs out of blood to enable characterization is not easy. CTCs are relatively scarce, with concentrations as low as 1–10 CTCs/mL of whole blood, against a background of millions of white blood cells and billions of red blood cells. Vortex’s VTX-1 Liquid Biopsy System automates the capture and collection of clinically relevant, unaltered CTCs directly from whole blood for analysis. The Vortex VTX-1 system is a fully automated benchtop system for collecting intact CTCs using microfluidic technology. Unlabeled CTCs in whole blood are trapped in microscale vortices while smaller red and white blood cells pass through. After selective trapping into the microfluidic chambers, CTCs are then released and collected into a variety of containers for downstream analysis.
“We believe the VTX-1 has a number of critical advantages in CTC isolation, including its automated and simple workflow, capacity for unbiased CTC capture and high CTC recovery and the ease with which it can be integrated with downstream assays. Empowering cancer researchers with a rapid, reliable and convenient solution to collect CTCs could advance cancer research and accelerate the development of innovative diagnostics and therapeutics.”
Gene Walther. “Vortex CEO
The VTX-1’s innovative approach towards capturing CTCs offers a number of advantages over existing approaches:
- Simple-to-use automated workflow. A blood sample collected from a patient is connected directly to the Vortex cartridge, which is placed in the instrument. The CTC enrichment process is then initiated and the scientist returns 1.5 hours later, with no need to attend to the instrument
- CTC capture is unbiased. The VTX-1 uses the physical properties of the CTCs to isolate the cells. Isolated CTCs are thus representative of the patient status, unbiased by molecular characteristics. Many technologies use affinity binding to target an epithelial protein marker, EpCAM, found at the surface of CTCs. Many cancer types do not express EpCAM and thus avoid capture. Also, CTCs tend to undergo a transition from epithelial to mesenchymal where they become more aggressive and invasive. Along this transition, CTCs down-regulate EpCAM, meaning the most clinically relevant and aggressive CTCs are missed in an affinity-based capture process.
- High CTC recovery and purity from metastatic cancer patients. The Vortex CTC isolation process provides a high yield of CTCs with minimal white blood cell contamination. In preliminary clinical studies, CTCs were isolated with high purity (from 2 to 93 WBCs per mL blood) from patients with metastatic breast (median 41 CTCs per 7.5mL; n=22), colorectal (median 12 CTCs per 7.5 mL, n=41), non-small cell lung (NSCLC) (median 26 CTCs per 7.5 mL, n=15), and prostate (median 6 CTCs per 7.5mL, n=20) cancers A higher purity CTC sample increases the accuracy and sensitivity of downstream assays, such as cytology and next-generation sequencing
- Integration with downstream assays. The VTX-1 fully automated workflow results in the CTCs being collected in a container of the user choice. This can be an Eppendorf tube, slide chamber, Petri dish, or well strip depending on the downstream analytical assay. Therefore, no transfer of the sample is required, resulting in higher CTC recovery and less variability from manual intervention.
- CTCs are unaltered by the process. CTCs captured by the VTX-1 are unaltered by labels or reagents providing direct access to intact cancer biology.
The VTX-1 represents the next step in CTC isolation resulting in meaningful advancements in cancer research and diagnosis.
About Vortex Biosciences
Vortex Biosciences is a cancer research and diagnostics company that integrates cancer biology, microfluidic engineering and informatics to develop tools for isolating and characterizing circulating tumor cells. The Vortex VTX-1 instrument received CE Mark and FDA Class 1 registration in 2016 and in 2017 launched in US and Europe. It works by harvesting intact circulating tumor cells from whole blood samples for use in downstream research and clinical applications such as patient stratification in clinical trials, monitoring disease progression and drug treatment effectiveness. With a mission to enable noninvasive diagnosis of cancer and real-time monitoring throughout a patient’s treatment, Vortex is at the forefront of accelerating cancer research and improving patient outcomes. Vortex is a core subsidiary of NetScientific plc, a transatlantic healthcare technology group with an investment strategy focused on sourcing, funding and commercializing technologies that significantly improve the health and well-being of people with chronic diseases. For more information, visit www.vortexbiosciences.com.
For more information, please contact:
François R. Martelet, M.D., CEO
Ian Postlethwaite, CFO
Tel: +44 (0)20 3514 1800
Consilium Strategic Communications
Mary-Jane Elliott Jessica Hodgson / Chris Welsh / Laura Thornton
Tel: +44 (0)20 3709 5700
Stifel Nicolaus Europe Limited (NOMAD and Broker)
Jonathan Senior / David Arch / Ben Maddison
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7710 7600
About NetScientific Plc
NetScientific is a transatlantic healthcare technology group with an investment strategy focused on sourcing, funding and commercialising technologies that significantly improve the health and well-being of people with chronic diseases.