ANGLE plc (AIM:AGL OTCQX:ANPCY), a world-leading liquid biopsy company, is delighted to announce that its ParsortixTM system has been utilised in further groundbreaking new cancer research which demonstrates for the first time the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) as part of large circulating tumor cell (CTC) clusters, which are 50x more likely to generate metastasis than single CTCs. 

The research, led by Professor Dario Marchetti at the Biomarker Research Program, Houston Methodist Research Institute (Houston, Texas, United States) in conjunction with the Center for Precision Health, University of Texas and MD Anderson Cancer Center has been published as a peer-reviewed publication in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

The research investigated metastatic breast and melanoma cancers and found that the Parsortix system harvested large CTC clusters comprising 10-30 cells in 100% of the patient samples (n=33).  In contrast, a leading antibody CTC system was unable to capture large CTC clusters in any samples and only identified small CTC clusters comprising 2-3 cells in less than 50% of the samples. 

The research work investigated for the first time the role of MDSCs in CTC clusters.  MDSCs are a subset of the body’s immune cells, which are distinct from neutrophils which have been separately studied by other ANGLE customers, and provide the body with a sophisticated mechanism to balance an extensive immune response to protect from excessive tissue damage and autoimmune disorders.  MDSCs interact with other immune cell types including T cells, dendritic cells, macrophages and natural killer cells to regulate their functions.  Unfortunately cancer cells can take an advantage of those immunosuppressive mechanisms to protect themselves against the body’s anti-cancer immune responses.

Investigation of the role of MDSCs in CTC clusters is seminal work because, instead of assisting the patient’s immune system to combat the cancer, the MDSCs actually play a number of key roles in promoting cancer metastasis by:

  • suppressing the body’s immune response to the cancer
  • enhancing CTC survival and proliferation
  • increasing CTC metastatic potency and dissemination.

The research work investigated each of these factors.  A key finding was that, when CTCs were cultured, the addition of MDSCs lead to an increase in the number of CTCs by a factor of 10 compared to a control CTC culture without the addition. 

The development of metastasis, the spread of cancer to distant sites primarily via the blood, is responsible for more than 90% of all cancer-related deaths. If metastasis could be suppressed by disrupting the role of the MDSCs in the CTC clusters then patient outcomes could be dramatically improved.

ANGLE’s Parsortix system has again been shown to have key advantages in harvesting CTC clusters, expanding the potential use of the Parsortix system in the growing CTC cluster research field with the prospect of routine use as a companion diagnostic for immunotherapy and other drugs to disrupt CTC clusters.

Professor Dario Marchetti at the Biomarker Research Program, Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, Texas, United States, commented:

“This study is the first to demonstrate the detection and functionality of naïve, heterotypic clusters consisting of CTCs and circulatory MDSCs directly isolated from the peripheral blood of metastatic cancer patients.  This opens up a whole new area of research with the prospect of stabilizing cancer progression to reduce its spread or metastasis.  The Parsortix state-of-the-art technology platform played a key role in enabling us to directly capture/isolate heterotypic CTC clusters from patients’ blood for downstream interrogation.”

ANGLE Founder and Chief Executive, Andrew Newland, commented:

“Investigation into CTC clusters and their impact on metastasis, an area where ANGLE’s Parsortix system is strongly differentiated, is beginning to take off with further seminal work by another one of ANGLE’s leading customers.  This work identifies the role of immune suppressor cells within the CTC cluster highlighting key new areas for drug development with the potential for Parsortix to be routinely used as a companion diagnostic. Our ultimate aim is for the Parsortix system to be routinely used for all cancer patients in the future.”

The study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences can be accessed here:

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