Cizzle Biotechnology plc (LON:CIZ) Executive Chairman Allan Syms caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss their collaboration with FairJourney Biologics and the company’s main focus over the next 6 months.
Q1: Now, you announced that Cizzle Biotechnology has signed a collaboration with FairJourney Biologics. Can you explain a bit more about what this collaboration will cover and what it means for the company, particularly regarding the further development of your test for early stage detection of lung cancer?
A1: Well, I think in your introduction you spelled out that the company is dedicated to bringing a test kit to the market for the early detection of lung cancer. At the heart of that kit is our biomarker, which is known as the CIZ1B biomarker, and that biomarker which is a protein is found in the majority of the different forms of lung cancer.
Very importantly, at a very early stage, i.e. stage 1, so in other words, when a patient doesn’t necessarily know that they have any symptoms of lung cancer, we have a protein in the blood that we can detect to show that that person does or does not have early stage lung cancer.
One of the important elements of having a diagnostic kit is what is known as a reporter system, in other words, how do we detect the presence of that biomarker protein in the blood. A common way to do that is to develop a protein that binds to that biomarker protein and very often those proteins are called monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are basically antibodies that we all have in our own immune system, but they’ve been designed in the laboratory to be exactly the same, in other words, they come from a single clone, they are a mono clonal antibody. That antibody is selected for being really highly selective for detecting the biomarker protein.
This is a fundamental, really important development for the company going forward because having a very highly sensitive protein detection system means that we can actually now go ahead and develop what is known as our ELISA assay, the test that is going to be used in hospitals, to rule out people that have been falsely diagnosed as having lung cancer.
The protein complex also can be used on other platforms, which means that today we can also look at licensing that out, working with other diagnostic global partners, and ways in which we might be able to develop that for future products.
Q2: Can you tell us a little bit more about FairJourney Biologics and what they actually do?
A2: Well, we’re really happy to have signed this agreement with FairJourney.
FairJourney are a CRO, a Contract Search Organisation, but there are probably one of the leading companies globally for doing search and development of antibodies for the detection of things like for us, a bio market.
Traditionally, there are a company that have spent much of their time in the therapeutic area, which means that what they’ve often been asked to do is to develop an antibody that can be used as part of a therapeutic regime against a particular medical condition, including cancer.
They’re based in Portugal and also in Cambridge so there are two groups, one in Porto and the other in Cambridge. They have a really highly successful track record in developing these antibodies, that’s over 99% success rate, and that was a critical factor in us working with them because we know that there were very high chance that they will develop the right type of antibody with the right type of sensitivity and specificity for our biomarkers.
They’ve worked for global pharmaceutical companies, household name pharmaceutical companies, they’ve worked for many of the biotechnology companies, and they’ve also worked with first rate universities around the world.
So, they’re a highly respected group with an incredible track record of success so we’re delighted to be working with them.
Q3: So, just looking forward then, what’s Cizzle Biotechnology’s main focus over the next six months?
A3: Our focus has been exactly as we said in our prospectus when we came to market back in May, which is that in the first instance, what we’re trying to do is to identify those patients who have been wrongly diagnosed as having a potential early stage lung cancer and actually ruling them out of the cancer care pathway.
To do that, we have to have what’s known as this ELISA assay, this is a multi-world play assay that all hospitals can use, and they can take a small sample of blood and test whether a patient does or does not have an early stage lung cancer. Since there are so many people that are falsely diagnosed as being positive, we can rule out a very large number of those patients, saving the NHS tremendous amount of money, and obviously saving the stress that goes along with those patients who have been wrongly diagnosed.
So, in the first six months of our company’s history of being a public entity, it’s about delivering what we said in our prospectus, which is we’re going to deliver an ELISA assay that we’ll go through a CE mark and through an FDA certification and sell that within the health community, both within the NHS and globally for other health care providers. So, that’s where our main focus is.
Once we’ve achieved that, then we’ll start looking to future products which is how do we actually adapt this into being a more general screening tool?