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Start-Up Spotlight: XEPTAGEN
Posted on March 10th, 2017 by Betsy Davis in Pharma R&D
Half the battle of treating a disease is to first diagnose it in a timely manner. XEPTAGEN, based in Venice, Italy, aims to develop effective, inexpensive tests to diagnose cancer and liver disease. Laura Paneghetti, Business Developer at XEPTAGEN, shares more about this biotech start-up’s research.
What does the company do?
XEPTAGEN S.p.A. is an Italian biotech company engaged in the discovery and clinical validation of novel molecular markers for cancer early detection, monitoring, and evaluation of response to therapy. These biomarkers are used to create innovative diagnostic tools that improve the clinical management of cancer patients and may allow personalized treatments.
Describe XEPTAGEN’s background and what the company aims to achieve.
By exploiting the natural immune response to early stage cancer and the proprietary platform technology Combinatorial Proteomic, the company has discovered predictive, prognostic, and early response tumor markers that lead to an earlier and more accurate detection of developing carcinomas. A major breakthrough was the discovery that many biomarkers can be found associated to immunoglobulins M (IgM) in the form of circulating immune-complexes, and that the determination of such immune-complexes can provide better sensitivity and specificity for tumor identification than the determination of the free biomarkers.
XEPTAGEN’s R&D activities have focused on the development of ELISA (enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay) kits for the quantification of immune-complexes in serological samples. Recently, the company has gained expertise also in the creation of novel algorithms that combine serological biomarkers and other clinical data from the same patient to provide personalized diagnosis.
XEPTAGEN’s aim is to develop accurate, non-invasive, low-cost, efficient, and automatable tests for the early diagnosis of patients with cancer or liver disease.
Why is this research important? What impact will it have on the industry?
XEPTAGEN’s diagnostic tools help clinicians at identifying patients with an early stage of cancer or liver disease. This timely diagnosis allows immediate medical care, which is crucial to obtain better outcomes and improved health and quality of life. In addition, treating patients before the disease evolves to more severe forms determines a reduction of costs for the national health systems. By developing accurate, economic, and easy-to-use diagnostic devices, XEPTAGEN also facilitates those medical laboratories that need a high degree of automation to accelerate their workflow.
What will the next steps for the company be?
XEPTAGEN’s activities are currently focused on non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis (NASH), a liver disease characterized by liver inflammation and progressive hepatic fibrosis, which may evolve to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). XEPTAGEN is studying innovative non-invasive, inexpensive, and safe solutions for the screening and identification of NASH.
Why does this research matter right now?
NASH requires constant monitoring of the patients, is difficult to treat, impairs quality of life, and causes premature death. The main risk factors for this disease are obesity and diabetes, two conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. For this reason, NASH is becoming a major health issue. Currently, the gold standard for the diagnosis of NASH is liver biopsy: an expensive, invasive, and time-consuming procedure with many risks of complications. Therefore, there is an urgent need of new non-invasive, low-cost, and safe methods to diagnose NASH without the need to perform a biopsy.
Are you currently looking for partners or investment?
XEPTAGEN is currently looking for investments to extend its pipeline, including the clinical validation of algorithms for the management of patients at risk of developing NASH, Barrett’s esophagus, or those infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and treated with the new direct-acting anti-viral drugs (DAAs).
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