VolitionRx, dedicated to the development of blood-based diagnostic tests, recently announced preliminary data from a pilot study showing that its blood test NuQ successfully detected 86 percent of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in the first of a series of non-cancer trials on the company’s blood test.
The clinical trial was led by researchers from Liège University Hospital in Liège, Belgium. Of the 78 participants, 21 were IPF patients who had not been treated for their lung condition yet, 27 participants had received IPF treatment, and the 30 remaining subjects were healthy volunteers.
Preliminary data revealed that a single NuQ biomarker assay distinguished 86 percent of the patients who had not received treatment (18 of 21) from the healthy group, with just six false positives (80 percent specificity).
“Some NuQ biomarker assays are particularly appropriate for the detection of inflammatory diseases such as IPF,” VolitionRx CSO Dr. Jake Micallef said in a press release. “To have achieved such impressive accuracy for detecting IPF using only a single such NuQ biomarker assay in this pilot study is very encouraging. Our next step will be to work on a larger study sample and to include additional NuQ biomarker assays to form a panel blood test that could have even greater accuracy.”
IPF is generally characterized by scarring of the lung tissue and reduction of the lung’s capacity to process oxygen. Nearly 100,000 people suffer from IPF in the U.S., with 30,000 to 40,000 new cases being diagnosed every year.
“At present, relatively little is known about this deadly disease. An accurate, cost-effective diagnostic for IPF could have a significant impact in assisting researchers in their efforts to understand the disease and develop a more viable treatment and potential cure,” said Dr. Julien Guiot, Liège University Hospital’s project coordinator.
IPF diagnosis now relies on a range of clinical, laboratory, radiological and pathological tests, mostly to exclude other health conditions first. The definitive diagnostic test currently available for IPF patients is high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), which is still very expensive and thus unavailable in many countries and hospitals.
Current treatments include pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, medication and, rarely, lung transplant. Despite all the available options, IPF’s prognosis is still poor, with only three to five years of expected survival after diagnosis.
“Our recent results show that panels of NuQ biomarker assays can detect colorectal, lung and pancreatic cancers with more than 90 percent accuracy,” said VolitionRx CEO Cameron Reynolds. “The excitement generated by the success of these cancer-related clinical trials has led to interest from clinical partners to investigate the effectiveness of NuQ blood tests in detecting other diseases, starting with IPF.
“We believe that the success of this pilot study for IPF demonstrates the potential of our Nucleosomics technology as a diagnostic platform for a broad range of diseases and establishes a lucrative potential new market for VolitionRx. Moreover, we are excited that our non-invasive blood tests may assist in creating better outcomes for patients with this deadly disease,” Reynolds said.