This week sees the commercial launch of a new cancer diagnostic device developed by Clearbridge BioMedics in partnership with product development firm Cambridge Consultants. The ClearCell® FX System is able to isolate and capture circulating tumour cells (CTCs) from a blood sample – even at concentrations as low as one in a billion blood cells. This is crucial for both research and clinical purposes, as CTCs play a significant role in metastasis – the main cause of cancer-related deaths.
Cambridge Consultants helped to translate Singapore-based Clearbridge Biomedics’ design into a commercial prototype. “This commercial launch of the ClearCell® FX System marks a new milestone in the project after a successful transfer from design and development to manufacturing,” said John Pritchard, head of diagnostics at Cambridge Consultants.
“It’s the latest example of our expertise in the design and development of diagnostic instrumentation, coupled with our long track record of helping clients bring innovative products to market fast. In this case it has helped create a device that has the potential to increase understanding of cancer – and, ultimately, improve patient care.”
The ClearCell® FX System uses biomechanical properties to isolate intact, viable CTCs, making it label free – ie without biochemical markers. The fully-automated system integrates with downstream assays – making it simple to use and saving both time and manpower. The device is highly sensitive and enables researchers to achieve reproducible results. It is designed to help cancer researchers better study CTCs and cancer metastasis biology – and potentially develop new cancer treatments.
With the ClearCell® FX System, a simple blood test could provide clinicians and researchers with real-time monitoring of a patient’s cancer progression. This is critical as cancers are complex, heterogenous and constantly evolving with each treatment and over time.
“At Clearbridge BioMedics we aim to bring clarity to cancer, by allowing each and every patient to benefit from timely, tailored treatment,” said Johnson Chen, managing director of Clearbridge BioMedics. “Real-time monitoring of a patient’s CTCs allows clinicians to develop the best treatment at the right time. By matching treatments to the patient, they benefit from optimal treatment outcomes, with fewer negative side effects and lower costs.”
The ClearCell® FX System is already being used by the Circulating Tumour Cell Centre of Research Excellence (CTC CoRE) – a collaboration between Clearbridge BioMedics, the National Cancer Centre Singapore and the pathology department at Singapore General Hospital.
“The ClearCell® FX System allows us to reproducibly retrieve CTCs from a routine blood test, opening up new possibilities for applying molecular diagnostic tests that have become crucial in managing cancer patients,” said Dr Daniel Tan, consultant, Division of Medical Oncology at the National Cancer Centre Singapore.
“Beyond improving patient stratification, such minimally invasive tools provide unique vistas into studying the characteristics of cancer cells in circulation. It is anticipated that the CTC CoRE will bring together state-of-the-art microfluidic technologies, next-generation molecular diagnostics and cutting-edge clinical science – ultimately to improve cancer care.”
The ClearCell® FX System will be showcased at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), May 30 to June 3, in Chicago.