Roche backs Mursla’s liver cancer strategy
Mursla, a novel multi-omics exosome characterisation company based in Cambridge, has secured mentorship support from Roche Diagnostics for novel liver disease technology.
They are planning a new liquid biopsy prospective pilot study for liver cancer surveillance through MedCity’s Collaborate to Innovate: London Diagnostics programme.
Liver cancer is the third most common cause of premature cancer death worldwide and its incidence has increased significantly over other forms of cancer in the last three decades.
Mursla’s aim is to develop a blood test that can detect early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) more effectively than the current standard of care.
The primary objective of the prospective pilot study is to select and confirm the relevance of novel HCC biomarkers for a larger longitudinal study demonstrating high clinical performance in a more tailored cohort.
A secondary objective is the assessment of Mursla’s tissue-specific and multi-omics exosome approach as proof of concept for the development of other related cancer liquid biopsy tests.
To enable the pilot study, Mursla will leverage its proprietary multi-omics exosome characterisation platform technology for the discovery and profiling of exosome phenotypes, ExoPheno™.
It consists of proprietary and patented technologies, which integrate wet lab (validated exosome tissue-of-origin markers, pre-analytical multi-omics sequencing workflow and ultrasensitive exosome marker detection systems) and dry lab analysis via machine learning.
Hundreds of blood samples will be prospectively collected by Tissue Access for Patient Benefit (TAPB), a University of College London (UCL) and NHS initiative based at the Royal Free Hospital in London and by Biobanco-IMM Lisbon Academic Medical Center Portugal in collaboration with Gastroenterology Service at Hospital de Santa Maria in Lisbon.
The samples will then be characterised by ExoPheno™ to establish differences in the multi-omics cargo of specific exosome sub-populations between patients with various chronic liver diseases and cancer at various stages.
Roche Diagnostics will also support Mursla in bringing its solution to the clinic by sharing its expertise and best practice in evidence generation, scaling up and market access.
First generation liquid biopsy tests measure circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) mutations and/or epigenetic markers (such as ctDNA methylation or fragmentation patterns) with low positive predictive value for early-stage cancer detection – potentially leading to millions of distressing false positives.
Mursla intends to improve PPV with its novel ExoPheno™ platform which:-
- Uses tissue-of-origin markers to capture tissue-specific exosomes in blood
- Detects specific multi-omics disease markers (including DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids and metabolites) contained in exosomes, mirroring the parental cell with disease
- Focuses on dynamic information released by living cells in exosomes, not by dying cells in the case of ctDNA.
Gerard Harkin, Head of Innovation UK & Ireland, Roche Diagnostics commented: “We are delighted to support the MedCity programme that encourages innovations in diagnostics and to provide in-kind mentorship to Mursla. In the field of cancer, we see the potential for new technologies to significantly improve the existing standard of care.”
Pierre Arsène, founder and CEO of Mursla added: “We are very pleased to receive the support of Roche’s UK team for the application of our novel exosome characterisation platform in early-stage liver cancer detection and beyond.
“We believe that the specific multi-omics information carried by blood exosomes from the tumor and its microenvironment will enable the next generation of liquid biopsy tests.”
• Mursla is one of nine SMEs to be chosen to proceed with its study having been hand-picked by a panel comprising experts from Cancer Research UK, NHS England, BIVDA, LifeArc and world leading London academic institutions. Mursla will retain full intellectual and economic rights.