clinical trialNovacyt, an international specialist in cancer and infectious disease diagnostics, updates the market on its intentions to progress new market opportunities for its NOVAprep technology and, in particular, a new collaboration with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), specifically the St Stephen’s AIDS Trust Ltd, through a master agreement for clinical trials.

Novacyt has signed a 5 year master clinical trial agreement with the St Stephen’s AIDS Trust, which is linked to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and Imperial College London. The aim of the first study is to develop a human papilloma virus (HPV) screening programme for homosexual men in the growing problem of anal cancer.

The St Stephen’s AIDS Trust is one of the largest human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) trusts in Europe and it is linked to the Dean Street Express clinic in London Soho, which diagnoses up to 350 patients with sexual health problems per day and will typically offer treatment within hours.

Under the agreement, Novacyt will use its NOVAprep technology to provide free tests to homosexual male patients to study and establish an appropriate HPV screening algorithm. Moving forward, the collaboration will seek to involve other interested parties, such as pharmaceutical companies, to provide a much needed solution and recommendation for a potential national anal cancer screening programme.

Every year, 30,500 new cases of anal cancer occur globally and the majority of cases (over 80%) are thought to be caused by HPV infection. The prevalence of HPV infection has caused a significant increase of anal cancer during the past decade and the cost of a comprehensive treatment regime for anal cancer is estimated to be £2.7m in the UK.

Gary Whitlock, MD, PhD, Consultant Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, commented: “Several UK institutions, including the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust, have called for investigation into whether screening homosexual men for HPV is useful and cost-effective. Currently there is no scientific data available on how frequently homosexual males should be screened. In comparison with female cervical screening, which is well understood and described as being effective every 5 years, sexually active homosexual men might need screening as often as every 6 months and homosexual males have an increased chance of being diagnosed with anal cancer, which also has a poor 5-year survival rate. We are therefore pleased to be working with industry specialists, such as Novacyt, to address this real problem.”

As previously announced, Novacyt’s NOVAprep technology with its proprietary and unique vial and medium, has a growing number of market opportunities in addition to its use in liquid based cytology for cervical cancer screening. The company is already working with a number of molecular platform manufacturers to potentially incorporate the NOVAprep vial and medium to address the need for high quality patient sample collection and DNA preservation and storage.

In particular, there are a number of business development opportunities for Novacyt to support cancers linked to HPV infection and in the biobanking of patient samples for future molecular screening. In addition to Novacyt’s collaboration with the St Stephen’s AIDS Trust, the Company expects to announce a number of scientific and commercial partnerships with specialists in these markets in the near future.

Graham Mullis, Group CEO of Novacyt, commented: “We are very excited to announce our intention to expand into other cancer markets, which have the potential to create more shareholder value from our proprietary NOVAprep technology. Novacyt is already a specialist in certain infectious disease and cancer diagnostic markets, and in the UK I am delighted to announce our clinical trial collaboration with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, who we have worked with for many years, particularly in specialist HIV testing. I look forward to updating our shareholders in the future with the progress of this collaboration and the specific clinical applications that could result for our NOVAprep technology.”