Even as cancer outcomes have improved, many current diagnostic and treatment methods have been around for decades. Utah-based oncology firm NuView Life Sciences is developing a first-of-its-kind peptide analog, NV-VPAC1, which helps eliminate the need for costly, less accurate diagnostic tests and “scorched earth” treatment methods.
(Park City, UT) December 08, 2020–A Utah oncology firm is developing a cancer diagnostic test and treatment delivery system that will make costly—and invasive—biopsies a thing of the past. For the most part, current diagnostic methods are time-consuming and expensive—most doctors order a battery of tests, including lab work, imaging studies, and surgical biopsies, to confirm malignancy.(1) New technology developed by clinical-stage oncology company NuView Life Sciences is poised to influence cancer diagnosis and treatment, helping doctors provide safer, less expensive, and more accurate care to each patient.
“NV-VPAC1(TM) will dramatically alter the way we diagnose and treat cancer,” says Paul Crowe, CEO of NuView Life Sciences. “There is no other technology like it today—the peptide targets a variety of cancer cells with extreme precision, providing a binary approach to cancer diagnosis. We’re working to develop the technology so that NV-VPAC1 will enable doctors to inform patients definitively whether they have cancer or not.”
NV-VPAC1 is a unique proprietary peptide construct that targets a specific receptor, called vasoactive intestinal peptide receptor type 1 (VPAC1), which is over-expressed on the surface of cancer cells. While normal, healthy cells may have a few of these receptors, cancerous cells typically express millions of them, making them an ideal target for new diagnostic and theranostic technologies. Developed by a team of experts to include Dr’s Mathew Thakur, Leonard Gomella, Charalambos Solomides, Edouard Trabulsi from Thomas Jefferson University, and Dr. Jay Bishoff, Urologist with Intermountain Healthcare, and Clinical Collaborator with NuView Life Sciences.
Even more exciting is that this new urine test for prostate cancer, NV-VPAC1, can be combined with Copper-64 (Cu-64), a positron emitter for PET imaging of metastatic prostate cancer and also combined with Copper (Cu-67) to treat prostate cancer, says Dr. Bishoff.
Dr. Bishoff and his colleagues have conducted research using voided urine specimens from men suspected of having prostate cancer after lab work revealed elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. Each man included in this initial research received the combination of NV-VPAC1 attached with a fluorescent dye. Then, their urine specimens were examined under a confocal microscope—remarkably, the researchers noted that prostate cancer cells fluoresced under the microscope, while healthy, normal cells did not. Dr. Bishoff also notes that current tests have shown NV-VPAC1 to be extremely precise, with extremely low false positive rates. The next step is to conclude clinical trials and receive FDA approval. This is not an expensive genetic test, but a simple urine test that can be run in the lab and eventually in the doctor’s office at a fraction of the cost of expensive genetic tests.
Beyond the obvious benefits to patients, NV-VPAC1 also helps doctors provide better treatment and improve outcomes. According to Dr. Bishoff, the peptide analog series will:
- Eliminate unnecessary diagnostic testing. Unlike predictive analysis of specimen samples, NV-VPAC1 uses a binary approach to cancer diagnosis. In the case of prostate cancer, early in vitro studies indicate that voided urine samples are all that is necessary to detect shed prostate or bladder cancer cells.
- Reduce diagnostic side effects and discomfort. Each year, almost 2 million prostate biopsies are performed in the United States. (2) These procedures are expensive, invasive, and, in some cases, lead to serious complications like sepsis. Doctors may use NV-VPAC1 as a better diagnostic option that poses no risk to the patient. Additionally, since NV-VPAC1 is engineered to detect cancer in voided specimens, there is no need to perform uncomfortable and invasive tests, such as a digital rectal examination, to help confirm a diagnosis.
- Help doctors tailor treatment to individuals. In many cases, standard cancer treatment methods use a “scorched earth” method—high doses of chemotherapy are given, which kill healthy cells along with cancer cells. Or, part of the patient’s body is bathed in high doses of radioactivity, which also poses harm to the patient. Unlike these methods, NV-VPAC1 can be combined with Cu-67 and target only cancer cells, killing them while preserving healthy tissue. The technology should make it possible for doctors to deliver lower doses of more precise treatments to better serve their patients.
- Allow doctors to monitor response to treatment. Early in vivo studies show that cancerous cells readily bind to NV-VPAC1. When combined with the radionucleotide Cu-64, the peptide analog appears to “light up” on standard imaging studies, such as positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. This technology can, in turn, be used to monitor a patient’s response to treatment by comparing the size and location of tumors before and after initiation of various therapies.
Dr. Bishoff says, “Other types of cancers, including breast, bladder, and adrenal cancer, also express VPAC1 at high levels. Our initial successes using NV-VPAC1 to diagnose prostate cancer would pave the way for the technology to eventually be used for other types of cancer, both rare and more common.”
Thanks to preliminary testing, NuView Life Sciences is taking NV-VPAC1 into clinical trials to examine the peptide’s accuracy in prostate cancer diagnosis. The study, hosted at Intermountain Healthcare, will recruit 150 patients who are scheduled for prostate biopsy to confirm or rule out prostate cancer. Biopsy results will be compared to the results obtained using NV-VPAC1 to analyze voided urine specimens to determine whether NV-VPAC1 is truly more accurate compared to standard prostate cancer diagnostic methods. Eventually, this clinical trial will expand to include other major medical institutions and universities.
“We’re confident in our technology and the promise it holds for cancer diagnostics and treatment. We hope that, by undergoing clinical trials, we can prove how beneficial NV-VPAC1 will be in avoiding unnecessary procedures, reducing cancer care cost, and providing better outcomes to patients,” says Bishoff.
About NuView Life Sciences
Founded in 2005, NuView Life Sciences is a clinical-stage precision oncology company located in Park City, Utah, advancing the way cancer is diagnosed and treated in our modern healthcare system. NuView is focused on creating precision binary cancer diagnostics and theranostics, providing clinicians more choices to improve patient outcomes while reducing healthcare costs through the development and clinical application of its exclusive proprietary peptide analog technology, NV-VPAC1(TM). Led by a multidisciplinary team of industry experts with decades of combined experience in healthcare and medical imaging technologies, NuView is poised to introduce a new cancer diagnostic technology and subsequently deliver a theranostic approach for effectively treating cancer. To learn more, visit www.nuviewlifesciences.com.
- “How Cancer Is Diagnosed.” National Cancer Institute, 2020, cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/diagnosis.
- “NuView Diagnostics: In Vitro.” NuView Life Sciences, 2020, nuviewlifesciences.com/diagnostics/in-vitro-diagnostics/.
Karla Jo Helms