Arquer Diagnostics has been selected to exhibit in the Innovation Showcase at this year's VentureFest North East. Louise Flintoft from the company tells BQ about Arquer’s innovation - the ADXBLADDER test.
Describe your business in no more than 60 words
Arquer Diagnostics is a private company developing and commercialising immunoassay diagnostic tests, for cancer diagnosis and monitoring.
Arquer is focused on the development and commercialisation of highly accurate, non-invasive, minichromosome maintenance (MCM) protein based tests, for the detection of epithelial cancers, to meet demand expressed by patients, clinicians and payers for cost-effective healthcare technologies, that enhance the patient diagnostic pathway.
What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?
We want to raise the profile of our business and awareness of bladder cancer diagnosis and treatment in the North-East, make contact with other businesses locally and support the development of the region as centre for Biotechnology.
Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.
The ADXBLADDER test is for use in a population of symptomatic patients who are presenting at the urology clinic with microscopic or gross haematuria; it is designed to unequivocally exclude the presence of bladder cancer and indicate, with high degree of certainty (especially in aggressive tumours) the presence of the disease. The test utilises sensitive and stable anti-MCM5 antibodies in a standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) format to rapidly detect MCM5 proteins from exfoliated bladder cancer cells in urine samples. The sample may be as small as 10mL.
Cells containing MCM5 proteins are not usually found in the urine of healthy individuals, as they are confined to the non-differentiated layers of the basement membrane of the urothelium. In cancer, the non-differentiated MCM5 containing cells are present (as tumours) at the surface of the urothelium and these cells are shed into the urine.
How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?
ADXBLADDER is a urine test for bladder cancer that helps identify bladder cancers that are currently missed and has the potential to cut the number of invasive surgeries required in the future.
What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?
BEST: We have the backing of enthusiastic doctors and can have a real impact on the quality of life of patients.
WORST: Patients care is not always the common objective. No matter how clinically relevant innovation is in the diagnostics market, the way healthcare works limits adoption as innovations interfere with old-fashioned pathways and often get caught in budget politics. Companies need to build health economic cases and lobby heavily to be able to push innovation. Uptake is greatly dependent on what is not seen vs. what companies present (clinical data and positive messages)….. And as always there’s the cost of doing good science!
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Arquer will face predominantly three types of challenges:
Financial: while conducting the necessary clinical studies the company will need to ensure adequate funding.
Stakeholder Management: to make sure the clinical results continue to positively impact/influence the health economics behind the product in order to drive penetration with all stakeholders
Adoption and clinical evidence generation: suitable for submission to the NICE Diagnostic Assessment Programme to facilitate adoption within the NHS
Where do you get support and advice to help you run your business?
Arquer Diagnostics have a board experienced in the In vitro diagnostics field and are supported by an international medical advisory board of eminent clinicians who help guide our strategy and focus on new clinical studies to support our business. We engage widely with clinicians worldwide and have engaged regulatory experts to help us expand our market reach.
What does being chosen for the innovation showcase mean to you?
Being chosen for the innovation showcase allows us to showcase the advances we are making and the opportunities available in the north-east.
Where do you see your company in five years’ time?
Arquer strategic vision is to develop and introduce into the market innovative, safe and reliable cancer tests. Our mission is clear: inspire innovation in the cancer diagnosis and it will take more than 5 years to realise it. We will continue for the next 5 years to produce good science to back up the efficacy of our tests and will continue to work with clinicians worldwide to make sure patients have access to the test. In 5 years we anticipate that we will reach a large number of countries worldwide, including USA.
What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?
Believe in your mission, believe in your people and be prepared for a hell of a ride!
Come and see the region's latest innovations for yourself, and get a unique chance to talk to the people behind the big ideas by registering for VentureFest North East here.