Our vision: Being part of cancer diagnostics with our molecular biological tests and save lives.
The procedure is indeed simple: The physician only needs e.g. a smear or a saliva sample, send it to the lab, and after a short time, he knows if his patient is at risk to develop or has cancer. Reliable and fast cancer diagnosis is the goal of the molecular diagnostics company oncgnostics.
Biologist Dr Alfred Hansel is co-founder and CEO of oncgnostics, which specialises in the development of cancer diagnostics based on epigenetic markers. The biotech company’s tests detect typical epigenetic changes, so-called DNA methylations in cancer cells. Since 2015, the GynTect® test for cervical cancer diagnostics is on the market. Tests on further cancers such as head and neck cancer are being developed.
Dr Hansel, methods such as the Pap smear or HPV test are already well-established in the early detection of cervical cancer. What are the benefits of GynTect®?
GynTect® is a fast and non-invasive test for clarification of abnormalities in cervical cancer screening. No operation is needed, a simple smear is sufficient. So, the test is able to avoid unnecessary operations and it saves women psychological stress. Since GynTect® already detects precancerous stages, the chances of recovery are very good. We assume that GynTect® has a high prognostic value, which we will show in a study to be published soon.
And what are the benefits of a molecular biological test in the detection of head and neck cancer?
Detecting head and neck cancer is very difficult because the corresponding areas are very hard to access. The current methods are often complex, invasive and expensive. In addition, the symptoms are very diffuse. For this reason, head and neck cancers are often detected very late, and the mortality rate is correspondingly high. In the future, tests developed by us should provide fast and reliable information, if a tumour is present. At the moment, we are working with saliva samples. If a tumour is present, common methods can be used for locating it. It’s our vision to be part of a future head and neck cancer screening that allows earlier detection and treatment – and thus will save lives.
What is your company strategy? In which countries are you active and how?
GynTect® for cervical cancer diagnostics is currently available in several European countries. Our partner GeneoDx, a Sinopharm subsidiary, currently works on market approval for the Chinese market. Especially for the US market, we look for partners within the diagnostics industry in order to get GynTect® into the diagnostic algorithms there as well. GynTect® has extraordinarily high specificity AND sensitivity. Thus, the test may also provide a possibility to fight cervical cancer in the less developed regions of the world, where it currently is most prominent.
What are your next goals? Where and why do you see high potential for your cancer tests?
The epigenetic markers we use in diagnostics have many advantages compared to other tests. DNA methylation is very specific, it is very stable in the diagnostic material, and it can be easily detected using standard lab methods. Besides tests running in standard molecular diagnostic laboratories we work on versions of our tests that can be directly run at the physician as well as in remote regions.