VisionGate, a Phoenix-based company focused on the early detection of lung cancer, recently announced that it has acquired exclusive rights to the University of Colorado’s patent for Iloprost for lung cancer prevention. The acquisition makes VisionGate Inc. one of the first companies to move from a purely diagnostic to a diagnostic and therapeutic company.
Data from a blind study demonstrated that VisionGate’s innovative lung cancer test LuCED has a sensitivity to lung cancer of 92 percent and a specificity of 98 percent. The test was also found to identify various types of tumors as well as stages of lung cancer, including Stage 1 and precancerous (dysplasia) cells.
VisonGate’s LuCED test is a physician-ordered, noninvasive, take-home test that collects sputum samples for lung cancer analysis. LuCED harnesses the power of proprietary optics and computational technology with the capability to generate 3D images of each cell in a sputum sample, then analyzes cells to identify key features, or biosignatures, associated with malignancy.
In the meantime, scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have found that Iloprost – a drug made from prostacyclin and a powerful vasodilator often prescribed as a treatment for lung conditions such as pulmonary arterial hypertension – in a Phase II trial has shown a 20 percent reduction of dysplasia in former smokers and a 40 percent reduction in the protocol matching group.
According to Dr. Paul Bunn, professor at the UC’s Anschutz Medical Campus and the director of the NCI Lung Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), the drug is able to repair smoking-caused lung injury in previous smokers, and was also found to reverse the precancer condition dysplasia, meaning it can potentially prevent cancer.
“We are ushering in a new era that boldly attempts to eradicate lung cancer, the world’s No. 1 cancer killer,” VisionGate Chairman and CEO Dr. Alan Nelson said in a press release. “For years, VisionGate has focused on the early detection of lung cancer where we have become the technology leader in noninvasive cell-based early detection. For the first time, we can now detect the precancer condition and provide a chemoprevention therapy to reverse it. Now more than ever, we are determined to make a lasting worldwide impact on this deadly disease.”
VisionGate and the UC Anschutz Medical Campus will continue to collaborate in this research, which is supported by a SPORE grant. Researchers will now conduct a Phase 2b validation trial in which LuCED will be compared with biopsy, which may lead to a Phase 3 clinical trial.
“We are excited to accelerate the Phase III trial for Iloprost with LuCED as the diagnostic tool to help find those patients with dysplasia,” Bunn said. “We are highly encouraged by the results of our Phase II trial on Iloprost, and now the possibility of combining Iloprost and LuCED could be game-changing.”
“The Lung Cancer SPORE is a National Cancer Institute Center of Excellence,” said UC Anschutz Medical Campus professor and co-principal investigator of the SPORE, Dr. York Miller. “The first SPORE in the U.S. to focus on lung cancer, the program was created to do the work that is pivotal to understanding and eradicating this deadly disease.”
Nelson recently presented VisionGate’s work and future research direction at the Biotech Showcase 2016 in San Francisco.