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Patent Awarded for Liquid Biopsy Technology

Blood sample

(Public Domain Pictures/Pixabay)

4 January 2016. A new U.S. patent was awarded for a technology that detects a broad range of cancers in blood, rather than taking tissue samples for analysis, usually requiring surgery. Jacob Micallef, chief scientist at VolitionRx, a developer of cancer diagnostics in Namur, Belgium, received patent number 9,222,937 on 29 December 2015 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent covers aspects of VolitionRx’s basic platform it calls nucleosomics. The technology detects fragments of chromosomes, known as nucleosomes, that circulate in the blood and contain a strand of DNA wrapped around eight histones, protein molecules released into the blood as a result of cell death. When mutations form in the DNA, nucleosomes change as well, which affect the underlying histone proteins.

Changes in nucleosomes are unique for each disease condition, which makes it possible to identify the disease by a biomarker or indicator when that nucleosome change occurs. VolitionRx’s technology looks for those indicators in antibodies in blood and other fluid samples that bind to histones and appear when nucleosomes change.

The patent covers detection methods for nucleosomes in blood, particularly techniques for binding to nucleosomes. The document specifies binding agents, such as antibodies for detecting the characteristics of nucleosomes, including the DNA strands and histones they contain. In addition, the patent covers application of the technology to tests of other other fluids from the body, and a range of disorders as well as cancer: inflammatory disease, autoimmune disease, infectious disease, sepsis, stroke, and heart attack.

VolitionRx says this is the third patent covering its technology. In September 2015, the company received its first U.S. patent for techniques for detecting indicators of disease based on characteristics of histone proteins. A second patent, covering techniques for detecting nucleosome-protein complexes, known as adducts, was awarded in November.

In October, as reported in Science & Enterprise, VolitionRx published results showing its blood tests successfully identified 84 percent of pancreatic cancer in patients with the disease, from five nucleosome biomarkers. When adding a standard cancer diagnostic antigen, the number rose to 92 percent.

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