Liquid biopsy company, Angle, has announced that the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted a European patent for its CellKeep slide to improve the capture of Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs).

Angle shared that it has also received formal communication from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), indicating the grant of its equivalent US patent application is imminent.

The CellKeep slide has been developed by the company over a three-year period to address the loss of CTCs – cancer cells detectable in blood – during common laboratory microscopy techniques used for their analysis.

In-house testing by Angle showed that subsequent standard laboratory processes to visualise CTCs for microscopy, including the critical step of transferring CTCs to slides for biomarker labelling, resulted in a rate of cell loss above 50% and caused damage to CTCs. This is a critical issue for their subsequent analysis as they are present in very low numbers in the blood.

Angle’s new device and technique of attaching cells to the slide demonstrated the elimination of over 70% of CTC loss experienced when using standard techniques.

Angle uses its liquid biopsy Parsortix system, which offers a non-invasive alternative to tumour biopsy in cancer clinical trials, to capture and harvest CTCs from patient blood.

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Angle CEO Andrew Newland told Medical Device Network: “Given Angle’s Parsortix system works with high performance, capturing rare circulating tumour cells, the last thing we wanted was to lose some of those cells for protein analysis.

“With CellKeep, cells are deposited via a funnel with a wicking cap used to remove excess liquid. This avoids removal of liquid vis cytocentrifugation.”

To test its CellKeep slides, Angle harvested CTCs from duplicate cancer patient blood samples and deposited them on either standard microscope slides or its CellKeep slides before processing and staining for CTC biomarkers.

Angle said the new technique would also reduce costs by concentrating CTCs into a smaller area on the slide, thereby limiting the quantity of high-cost antibodies and imaging time required to identify and analyse cells.

On the future of CellKeep, Newland said: “At present, CellKeep has utility within Angle’s Portrait+ Staining Kit, but we believe there is a wider market opportunity for CellKeep beyond that. We are excited to see how it will continue to impact clinical processes, improving standard practices going forward.”

Angle recently launched its Portrait Flex CTC assay, which analyses CTCs and characterises the samples with immunofluorescence staining for epithelial, mesenchymal, blood lineage and nuclear markers, to advance personalised cancer care.