- Guillem Cebrian
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Dr. Juan Francisco Delgado de la Poza, immunology senior physician at the Consorci Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí has been granted with the AGAUR-Innovators grant, which will mainly fund the salary of an entrepreneur to bring the results of his research project to the market. In this sense, Xavi Gallego, former head of Innovation and Business Development at the Institut de Recerca I Innovació Parc Taulí, has been selected as the entrepreneur for Taby Diagnostics, a project aimed at developing and commercializing an in vitro test to early diagnosis Hepatocellular Carcinoma in patients at risk.
What is Hepatocellular Carcinoma?
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer, accounting for around 90% of primary liver cancers. HCC is particularly aggressive and has a poor survival rate (five-year survival of <5%) and, therefore, it remains an important public health issue worldwide. Early diagnosing this type of cancer is very important as patients can be treated with curative methods, decreasing mortality and improving patient outcomes.
Aren't current methods to early diagnosis HCC good enough?
Current methods to early diagnosis HCC are either expensive, practitioner-dependent, or have poor sensitivity. In this regard, a multidisciplinary approach would be needed to obtain reliable results, which in turn would be economically unsustainable for the healthcare system. The use of a single method to early diagnosis HCC currently leads to half of the patients being diagnosed at late stages, when no curative treatments can be applied.
Taby Diagnostics has developed a platform that allows the identification of new biomarkers to early diagnose several types of cancer. This platform is based on an innovative method for improved epitope mapping. Thanks to the identification of the most immunodominant epitopes we are able to develop highly sensitive in vitro diagnostic tests based on the quantification of serum autoantibodies. (ask Dr. Delgado de la Poza about the technology behind Taby)
What are autoantibodies and why are they good biomarkers for early diagnosis?
Cancer cells can induce an immune response resulting in the production of tumor-associated autoantibodies (TAA). These serum immunobiomarkers have been detected for a range of cancers up to 5 years before the development of clinical symptoms and detection by imaging. This is why they are very good candidates as biomarkers to early diagnose cancer. In addition, their measurement is minimally invasive and cost effective using established technologies.
Have you already performed a proof of concept experiment?
Yes, thanks to our platform we have identified and intellectually protected an immunodominant epitope that we have used to develop a test to quantify autoantibodies against the alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a protein whose presence in the serum has been associated with HCC. This test has been used in a group of patients at risk for HCC, demonstrating a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 94%, therefore providing a powerful tool to double the amount of patients early diagnosed, and giving these patients a chance to receive curative treatment.
What are the next steps?
Giving the notorious financial need to bring this test to the market under the quality standards requested by the regulatory agencies, we have decided to create a spin-off company by the end of 2020. Under this format, Taby Diagnostics will have access to private investors , and public grants for small companies that will accelerate the process to reach the market.
Graduate in Information and Documentation (UB) and Master in Management and Direction of Libraries and Information Services (UB). At I3PT I am in charge of the Knowledge Management Unit and I am in charge of collecting and disseminating its scientific production. I am passionate about new technologies, data management and open science.All stories by: Guillem Cebrian
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