(Moncton, N.B.) – March 21, 2016 -- The Atlantic Cancer Research Institute (ACRI) will present improvements on its patented peptide-based extracellular vesicle isolation technology today at the Circulating Biomarkers World Congress (CBWC) in Boston. These enhancements to this first-in-class liquid biopsy-enabling technology will open up opportunities for better disease management as it applies to early detection, diagnosis and monitoring of treatment response. This technology yields cancer biomarkers using a minimally-invasive approach that complements and may eventually eliminate the need for invasive tissue biopsies as a means to identify and monitor disease in real time.

“Our liquid biopsy technology allows doctors to start with a patient’s blood or urine sample and determine, in real-time, the current state of an ever changing disease like cancer,” explained Dr. Rodney Ouellette, President and Scientific Director of the ACRI. “Our technology improves the capture of cell-derived vesicles, which contain information-rich cargoes or biomarkers that reflect the cell of origin. These biomarkers allow us not only to detect the presence of cancer but also to monitor the disease as it changes in response to treatment and acquires resistance to certain drugs.”

In the liquid biopsy field, growing evidence suggests that Extracellular Vesicles (EVs), and the information that they contain, are ideal vehicles for disease monitoring in the context of precision medicine and ACRI’s peptide-based EV capture technology enhances the detection of disease biomarkers in blood and urine samples.

Enhanced EV isolation from blood improves detection of pancreatic cancer biomarkers

Liquid biopsy requires a simple, rapid and efficient technique to isolate EVs from blood, which until now has been a particular challenge given the complexity of the source material. A recent breakthrough at ACRI has significantly improved the yield and quality of EV capture from patient blood samples. This enhancement provides a tremendous opportunity to develop new and better clinical tests that will enable the early detection and real-time monitoring of cancer.

“We are already seeing the improvements that can be achieved with the peptide-based capture technology in our studies on pancreatic cancer detection. Our preliminary results show that using the new blood protocol allows for a ten-fold improvement in the sensitivity of detection for KRAS mutations, which are commonly found in pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Stephen Lewis, Assistant Scientific Director at ACRI, speaking about the ACRI’s Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute-funded research on liquid biopsy.

Urine test correctly predicts biopsy outcome for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. In addition, there are no reliable biomarkers that can predict the more aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Elevated blood PSA levels have increased early prostate cancer detection, but have also led to an increasing number of unnecessary biopsies due to the test’s low specificity. ACRI’s non-invasive urine-based liquid biopsy assay has a strong predictive value for prostate cancer. Furthermore, an even better predictive value can be achieved as the cancer aggressiveness increases.

A study entitled, “A novel urinary EV-based prostate cancer assay that correctly predicts cancer grade as identified in the biopsy sample” will be presented at the CBWC. The results show that where high grade (Gleason 7 or greater) prostate cancer was present in the biopsy sample, the urine EV assay was able to identify these cases with a sensitivity of 100%. This assay outperforms currently-available tests and allows for patient stratification, which should ultimately lead to better treatments outcomes.

“Our urine extracellular vesicle assay allows us to identify both the more aggressive prostate cancers and the negative patients with very high accuracy in our cohort of patients.” explained Dr. Rodney Ouellette, “For patients in the intermediate group we were able to see that some had characteristics of aggressive disease. This is important. While over-diagnosis is an issue in prostate cancer, we need better tests to identify which intermediate patients may have high risk disease and our tests appear to do just that.”

About the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute

The Atlantic Cancer Research Institute (ACRI) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998. Located at Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick, the ACRI employs a research team of over 50 people that is striving to innovate by accelerating its understanding of cancer, thus paving the way to better diagnosis, more accurate patient stratification and drug discovery.


For additional information, please contact:

Nadine Martin, Communications Agent
Atlantic Cancer Research Institute
T 506.862.7512
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Atlantic Cancer Research Institute 
Pavillon Hôtel-Dieu
35, Providence Street
Moncton, NB E1C 8X3 Canada
Tel.: 506-862-7512
Fax.: 506-862-7571

The Atlantic Cancer Research Institute

 (ACRI) is a non-profit organization founded in late 1998 and housed at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton. Thanks to its unique expertise, ACRI has become a true centre of excellence in cancer research.


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