A Swiss startup is testing devices that rely on nanotechnology to speed up cancer diagnosis, a goal shared by many researchers and entrepreneurs around the world.
Nanotechnology is a promising approach, according to the National Cancer Institute. Apart from diagnosing cancer earlier and sooner, this has the potential to assist in making treatment decisions. The hope for a nano-oncology application is that it is also less toxic than chemotherapy.
Founded in 2017, Artidist hopes his device can do both, starting with breast, lung and pancreatic cancer, according to Marija Plodinec, co-founder and CEO of the company. Artidis employs 22 people in Switzerland and the US
The device – also known as Artidis – relies on proprietary nanomechanical biomarkers and clinical data analytics to diagnose cancer in biopsied tissue. Biomarkers can also measure cancer aggressiveness, allowing for customized treatment.
Results were available in less than three hours, beating the days it took after a traditional biopsy, Plodinec wrote in an emailed response to questions forwarded by a spokesperson. A cancer biophysicist, Plodinec began researching the technology used by Artidis in 2008 when he was a graduate student at the University of Basel in Switzerland.
“Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and I wanted to find a device that would reduce the stressful period of uncertainty before you receive a cancer diagnosis,” wrote Plodinec.
Since its founding three years ago, Artidis has raised $ 15.1 million in seed money from investors including Bernina Bioinvest and SMD MedicalTrade AGboth based in Switzerland.
With a view to expanding in the US, Artidis hopes to raise another $ 20 million in Series A funding by the end of 2020. The company aims to enter the market by 2022 and is currently finalizing pre-submission files for submission to US Food. and Drug Administration, says Plodinec. Hospitals and health systems will be able to buy or lease accompanying devices and software, he said.
In a study involving 545 patients in Switzerland from 2016 to 2019, Artidis proved effective in detecting breast cancer in routine clinical settings. Presented at the June meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, this study also demonstrates the potential of a tool for assessing future tumor growth.
“Secondary analysis suggests that this new technology will be able to subclassify breast cancer subtypes into more or less aggressive subgroups, which can define a patient’s treatment plan and thereby reduce over-treatment and under-treatment,” Dr. Rosemarie Burian, lead investigator of the study and a gynecologist at the Breast Center at Basel University Hospital, said in a statement announcing the results this summer.
Artidis plans to launch a multi-center study for breast cancer in the US later this year and a similar study in Europe in early 2021, Plodinec wrote. A proof-of-concept study on lung and pancreatic cancer is also scheduled to begin in early 2021.
In the US, Artidis has collaborated with MD Anderson Cancer Center at Texas Medical Center in Houston, Plodinec said, adding that the company is in talks with other US cancer centers.
“Artidis can be used to analyze any living tissue, so the potential for growth is enormous,” he wrote.
Photos: CGToolbox, Getty Images and Artidis