Oxford Cancer Analytics is pioneering a new generation of blood based liquid biopsy tests for early cancer detection, and has announced the completion of an additional seed financing round, led by Eka Ventures, with participation from LifeArc, MegaRobo Technologies, Oxford Technology Management, and value-add individual investors. The Oxford and Toronto based company has raised $5.5M to date and will invest in expanding its first-in-class international studies and developing products for the deadliest cancers that can benefit most from liquid biopsy early detection.
Up to 1 in 2 people will develop cancer in their lifetime, which is becoming the leading cause of deaths worldwide. Cancers that account for the majority of these deaths are often diagnosed at the late stage, when they have spread across the body and rendered incurable. Unfortunately, these malignancies such as lung cancer do not currently have effective screening methods for early detection. For example, lung cancer patients usually show no symptoms at the early stage. Patients suspected of having lung cancer often have to wait for anxiety-inducing series of X-rays, CT scans, and invasive tissue extraction, commonly detecting their disease at only the late stage. Having a simple blood test that is no different than one routinely done in a community clinic or hospital and can detect these deadliest cancers early is game-changing.
There has been much excitement about the potential of a liquid biopsy blood test for early cancer detection from various companies and research groups, specifically using DNA in the blood known as cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and targeted protein panels extrapolated from tissue data. OXcan believes its new generation of liquid biopsy tests can do better.
“Existing data suggests that current approaches fall short at accurately detecting and localizing the deadliest cancers that desperately need to benefit from a blood test. At OXcan, we are using state-of-art and unbiased high-throughput proteomics approaches to examine hundreds and thousands of proteins in blood samples from largest studies of their kind for the first time. Combined with proprietary and tailored machine learning approaches, the results are products that fully integrate with existing care pathways and can detect and localize the deadliest cancers with unprecedented sensitivity and specificity.” says Dr Peter Jianrui Liu, OXcan’s CEO and co-founder.
Leading medical oncologists and experts internationally agree with OXcan’s approach. The company is working with over 10 healthcare centres worldwide and has over tens of thousands of blood samples in the pipeline for product development. In addition, OXcan has support from internationally recognized organizations and experts, including the Francis Crick Institute, Cancer Research UK, and leading professors in proteomics and medical oncology.
“OXcan’s advances wouldn’t be possible without our interdisciplinary team, transcending oncology, machine learning and statistics. There is much global excitement about the application of machine learning in medicine. Ultimately, this potential can only be realized if robust mathematical methodology is coupled with clinical expertise. That’s why at OXcan, both rigorous science and an intimate understanding of clinical care pathways are essential to best help patients at risk of cancer and patients who already have cancer.” says Andreas Halner, OXcan’s President and COO.
For OXcan’s CEO, beating cancer is personal. “Like many people, I have lost someone who has inspired my life’s mission to a common and deadly cancer that can be cured when detected early. Along with my co-founder, Andreas Halner, and the OXcan team, we are committed to revolutionizing cancer detection and treatment paradigms in our generation through liquid biopsy.” Indeed, Liu has spent the past decade working in Nobel winning laboratory, at the World Health Organization, and forging collaborations across three continents in cancer research and clinical medicine.
Positive social impact is central to OXcan’s mission. “We hope that society can shift towards preventative medicine. Detecting disease early is a step in that direction which could improve the lives of countless people around the world.” remarks Halner, who has taught medicine at Oxford and spearheaded data analytics and machine learning for a European-wide respiratory study.
“At Eka, we look to back transformative, data led technologies that can help shift our healthcare system to a more proactive and preventative system. OXcan’s technology has the potential to play a key part in that by enabling earlier, less expensive and more accessible cancer screening. We are also extremely focused on the expertise of the founding teams that we back and we believe Peter and Andreas have an unusual mix of deep clinical and technical expertise combined with a commercial desire to build a very large business.” Says Jon Coker, Co-founder & General Partner at Eka Ventures.
About Oxford Cancer Analytics
Oxford Cancer Analytics (OXcan) is on a mission to drastically transform cancer early detection and management to impact billions of lives worldwide. OXcan's multidisciplinary team is developing a new generation of liquid biopsy blood tests using cutting-edge proteomics and machine learning approaches that can detect the deadliest cancers early, when they can still be cured. This blood test can be conducted in an affordable, minimally invasive, and routine manner with superior accuracy and localization capacity in large populations.