Rhythm Biosciences completes major cloning step ahead of schedule

By Zoe Gross. Published at Jun 21, 2018, in ASX Biotechs

Medical diagnostics innovator, Rhythm Biosciences Limited (ASX:RHY), has successfully completed the cloning step of key reagent development ahead of schedule. This enables the company to now move on to the next stage of characterisation and expansion.

Producing the reagents has been a major technical achievement for RHY because it involved isolating four cell lines, each producing monoclonal antibodies which target the third biomarker on the lead diagnostic panel.

This successful cloning is another critical step towards ensuring RHY has a reliable, long-term source of key reagents for its simple and effective ColoSTAT (TM) blood test for colorectal cancer.

RHY is now entering a phase that entails detailed characterisation of the monoclonal antibodies produced by the cell lines. It expects this work to be completed by mid-August.

RHY will characterise the growth and antibody production properties of the selected cell lines and will then commence expansion and biobanking of master (and working) cell banks of these critical cell lines, ensuring it has a long-term, well-characterised, sustainable source of these important reagents.

RHY is on track to have delivery of the key reagents and cell lines completed by late November.

RHY CEO, Dr Trevor Lockett, said: “The CSIRO and the Rhythm teams have worked hard and done an excellent job of screening and cloning these antibody-producing cell lines, putting Rhythm in a strong position to develop quality assay kits for this the third biomarker of its lead ColoSTAT (TM) biomarker panel.”

As always, it should be noted that RHY is an early stage play and anything can happen, so seek professional financial advice if considering this stock for your portfolio.

Lockett said that the team is focused on seeing its hard work translated into robust laboratory tests that can be clinically evaluated in Study 6, currently on track to start in late calendar 2018.

“We are confident of the science behind this test and we are moving as fast as we can to progress it through the clinical testing phase,’’ Lockett added.

This development follows on from several announcements earlier in the month, revealing that biotech investor, Merchant Group’s Merchant Opportunities Fund, has become a substantial shareholder in Rhythm — initially with a stake of 5.02 per cent, and a later 7.01 per cent.

“Colorectal cancer is the third highest cause of cancer death world-wide, yet it is quite treatable if diagnosed in the early stages so we really want to enable doctors to order a simple blood test as soon as we practically can,’’ Lockett said. “In Europe, Australia and the US combined, there are 250 million people between ages 50 and 75 years who should be screening for colorectal cancer but 130 million of these don’t.”

According to Lockett, once clinically proven and approved, RHY’s goal will be to make ColoSTAT (TM) a vital tool in the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer, augmenting existing devices such as the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) and colonoscopy.

“It’s all about getting more people screening and saving lives,” Lockett added.

ColoSTAT (TM) uses antibodies to measure the levels of several particular proteins in the blood, which have been shown to vary in the presence of absence of colorectal cancer. The concentration values are then combined using a proprietary algorithm, and this process provides an indication of cancer risk. A returned result above a certain threshold will be an indicator that a patient should progress to a colonoscopy for further investigation.

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