A Durham University spin-out has signed a deal to enable the development of technology that could lead to major improvements in prostate cancer diagnosis.
FScan Ltd has agreed a worldwide exclusive licensing agreement with Glide Pharma that will see the Oxfordshire-based firm exploit its lanthanide technology, which uses light energy to measure the level of citrate in seminal fluid samples.
The innovation, which can highlight the onset and progression of prostate cancer, was developed by Professor David Parker and Dr Robert Pal, working in Durham University’s Department of Chemistry.
Prof Parker has been a professor there since 1992. while Dr Pal, a former Durham PhD student and a current Research Associate, will begin a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in October.
The licensing deal includes an upfront fee, development and commercial milestone payments and royalties on future product sales.
“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,” said Prof Parker.
Clinical studies, led by renowned consultant clinical urologist Mark Emberton, are also underway at UCL Hospital London to assess the effectiveness of the citrate test
FScan Ltd was set up in 2008 to exploit pioneering discoveries in analysis of a range of biologically active chemical species
To assist with business development activities, the company has received a grant from the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria.
Glide Pharma has plans to adopt the technology in the USA as a so-called ‘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.
Chief executive of FScan Ltd, Kish Mistry, 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.”
Dr Mark Carnegie-Brown, chief executive of Glide Pharma, 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.”
The deal represents the latest in a string of success for Durham University spin-outs.
Within the past year, two others, Kromek and Applied Graphene Materials, have floated on the stock market and attracted a number of high profile contracts.
The university has also produced the likes of Reinnervate, which specialises in cell growth technologies in the life sciences sector, and Surface Innovations, part of the P2i Group, a world leader in liquid repellent nanocoating technology.