Duo team up for the development of antigen-targeted probes for early cancer detection

Owlstone Medical – a company focused on precision medicine and early disease detection – has announced that it has reached a research agreement with Bicycle Therapeutics. The latter is a company which develops new therapies based on its bicyclic peptide technology.

As part of the partnership, the two companies will study the potential of combining technologies and methods to develop antigen-targeted diagnostic probes that use bicyclic peptides as their targeting system. This research is associated with Owlstone’s Exogenous Volatile Organic Compound (EVOC) Probes.

Analysis will initially concentrate on lung cancer screening as the first proof of principle for the broader potential by promoting selective accumulation of the probe at the tumour. This will in turn provide increased signals and enhanced specificity.

If successful, the resulting antigen-targeted EVOC Probes will have the potential for use in pre-clinical research to support both cell-based and in-vivo studies; in clinical trials for patient stratification and measurement of target engagement; and as companion diagnostics to identify responders/non-responders for therapy selection and to measure target engagement over the course of treatment.

Meanwhile, Owlstone is developing diagnostic tests in areas of high unmet clinical need. This includes the early detection of lung cancer – still the most common cancer in the world. To bolster this aim, Owlstone has incorporated the use of EVOC Probes.

These probes utilise the activity of enzymes expressed within the tumour microenvironment to release a volatile reporter chemical that can be detected on breath when a tumour is present. This approach will be explored through the collaboration and will exploit Bicycle’s proprietary technology to direct binding and accumulation of the probe on tumour cells.

Billy Boyle, co-founder and chief executive officer at Owlstone Medical, explained: “We are committed at Owlstone to transforming diagnostics through the earlier detection of disease through breath, and are always seeking innovative approaches to further enhance the performance of our tests.”

He added: “Through our partnership with Bicycle, we will jointly explore the exciting possibilities of a combined antigen-targeted EVOC approach for a broad range of precision medicine applications, initially for the early detection of lung cancer to support Owlstone’s ongoing work in this area.”