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Durham University spin-out in deal to develop potential prostate cancer test

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Posted September 9, 2014

A Durham University spin-out company has signed a deal to enable the development of technology that could improve the diagnosis of prostate cancer in the future.

FScan Ltd has agreed a worldwide exclusive licensing deal with Glide Pharma which will see the Oxfordshire based company exploit its lanthanide technology that uses light energy to measure the level of citrate in seminal fluid samples. The level of citrate can be used to signal the onset and progression of prostate cancer.

The technology was developed by Professor David Parker and Dr Robert Pal working in Durham University’s Department of Chemistry, where David has been a Professor since 1992. Dr Pal, a former Durham PhD student and a current Research Associate, begins a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship in October this year.

Clinical studies are underway at UCL Hospital London to assess the effectiveness of the citrate test in seminal fluid, led by Mr Mark Emberton, a renowned consultant clinical urologist.

The licensing deal includes an upfront fee, development and commercial milestone payments and royalties on future product sales.

Professor David Parker, in the Department of Chemistry, at Durham University, said: “What is pleasing is that some fundamental academic research can now be properly assessed for commercial exploitation and may, in time, offer real benefit to patients.”

FScan Ltd was set up in 2008 to exploit pioneering discoveries in the accurate and rapid analysis of a range of biologically active chemical species.

The company has also received support to assist with business development activities through a recent grant from the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria.

Kish Mistry, CEO of FScan Ltd, said: “We are delighted to have executed this agreement with Glide Pharma, as they are very well positioned to move this promising technology forward for the benefit of patients and clinicians in the prostate cancer field.”

Glide Pharma has plans to adopt the technology developed in Durham in the USA as an analyte specific reagent, used to identify and measure the amount of a chemical substance in biological specimens.

In the longer-term, it intends to create an accurate prostate cancer diagnostic test, pursuing regulatory approval both in the USA and Europe.

Dr Mark Carnegie-Brown, Glide Pharma’s CEO, said: “We believe this innovative technology has the potential to revolutionise the prostate cancer diagnostic market, where there is a clear need for an accurate, rapid non-invasive test. With our existing portfolio of therapeutics and vaccines making excellent progress, we plan to accelerate the development of this potentially important diagnostic.”

Durham University is no stranger to success with its spin-out companies. Two have floated on the stock market within the past year – Kromek, specialising in digital colour x-ray imaging, raised £15 million and Advanced Graphene Materials £11 million. Other high-profile spin out companies include Reinnervate, specialising in cell growth technologies in the life sciences sector, and Surface Innovations, part of the P2i Group which is world leader in liquid repellent nanocoating technology.

Source: University of Durham

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