Monday 2nd August 2010
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Pacific Edge Biotechnology, the cancer diagnosis firm, has a “pipeline of new products coming through” after winning New Zealand patents for gastric cancer detection and melanoma prognostic technology, chief scientist Parry Guilford says.
Japan will be the first country to receive the gastric, or stomach, cancer kits. Scientists say a high-salt diet, which includes a lot of preserved and pickled vegetables, makes annual gastric cancer screening a must and is available free of charge to all Japanese over 40.
But because the test involves a barium meal followed by an x-ray, only about six million people a year out of a possible 65 million in the at-risk group bother to take the test, the company said in a statement. Pacific Edge’s proposed simple blood test would be a much more attractive screening option than the old-fashioned test for gastric cancer, it said.
The NZX-listed company has spent over five years developing genetic markers and the corresponding tests to identify types and stages of cancer.
The filing of New Zealand patents based on markers that no one else has identified provides Pacific Edge with a limited freedom to operate around the world. The company intends to carry out clinical trials of the gastric cancer detection kit next year in Asia, as well as looking for the right Japanese partner to help market the diagnostic kit.
“We’re building relationships at the moment with people who are capable of taking the kit to market,” Guilford said.
He said the company, which last traded on the stock market at 22 cents each, has other laboratory-based products in the pipeline, including a new platform for cancer diagnostics.
“These are important foundations for the long-term,” Guilford said. “If you find cancer early, you can chop it out and be more likely to get a cure. We’re developing methods to find it early.”
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