Oncimmune LLC. (Oncimmune) is a company you may want to know about. I recently interviewed Dan Calvo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Oncimmune, about their EarlyCDT-Lung blood test that aids in risk assessment and early detection of cancer. It currently is in use around the United States.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Mr. Calvo. So, how did Oncimmune get started?
Oncimmune, LTD began in 2003 in the United Kingdom. Professor John Robertson, a professor of surgery at the University of Nottingham, pioneered the now patented process of testing blood for a panel of autoantibodies specific to the detection of cancer. Oncimmune, LLC started here in Kansas in 2006. The goal in bringing the business to market from its beginnings in the United Kingdom included ensuring their program could be scaled from the lab to a commercial operation handling more patient samples reproducibly.
Oncimmune just launched EarlyCDT-Lung nationally in June of this year, and has experienced regional growth 'getting the word out,' followed by more national growth following their participation in the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference held last June in Chicago. We just returned from a successful participation in the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST 2010) conference in Vancouver, BC, where we presented two oral presentations and five scientific posters.
Why is the company based in the Kansas City-area?
At the time that the company was looking for a place in the United States to open shop, then Governor Kathleen Sebellius (now heading up the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) was very pro-biotech; we received financial support from the Kansas Bioscience Authority. The company also enjoyed a good relationship with the University of Kansas, and received cooperation from IBT Laboratories, and its founder John Halsey.
So how does your EarlyCDT-Lung blood test work?
Close to 500 participant doctors currently use our EarlyCDT-Lung test to assess cancer risk for their high-risk patients, and as a strategy of assessing malignancy for patients with lung nodules. The EarlyCDT-Lung test is a simple blood test ordered through a doctor, using a collection kit obtained from Oncimmune. If the doctor isn’t already familiar with the company, Oncimmune will provide educational and other background material about the test for you to give to your doctor.
How can someone considered high-risk for developing lung cancer advocate for themself?
With nearly 80 percent of smokers at high-risk for developing cancer, it is important for them to reduce their risk factors as much as they can. Additionally, they can get this test to make sure they catch lung cancer early to improve treatment success. The 5-year survival rate for lung cancer triples to over 50 percent when caught at an early stage, according to the National Cancer Institute.
How can a blood test detect cancer?
EarlyCDT-Lung testing focuses on the blood proteins, or autoantibodies, your immune system naturally produces as a response to foreign proteins produced by cancer cells. Studies have shown that your body produces these biomarkers from three to five years before a detectable tumor can be found. Positive tests often can find cancer-associated antigens indicating the possibility of either small cell or non-small cell cancer in Stage I or Stage II, when it is easier to treat, as opposed to later stages as is more common with other types of testing or undiagnosed cancer. This type of testing also could be modified for use in early testing for breast cancer (slated for market in 2011), and most other forms of cancer such as pancreatic, ovarian, colon, and prostate, etc.
How does EarlyCDT-Lung compare to other forms of lung cancer diagnostic tools?
Currently there is not a recommended practice for early detection of lung cancer. Other forms of testing include sputum, lung biopsy, and CT scanning. These forms can be invasive, and some have been recently come under scrutiny for over-zealous testing, and questions of unnecessary exposure to radiation. Blood testing is less invasive, and can detect the antibodies earlier than some other testing can. The test currently looks for six different blood proteins, but soon will switch to an even more effective panel of seven antibodies.
Does EarlyCDT-Lung produce false positives?
As in any test, it can produce a false positive, but tests have shown to be more than 90 percentaccurate.
Is the test covered by insurance?
The test is covered by Medicare Part B and also private insurance. Oncimmune will bill the insurance carrier on the patient’s behalf.
This information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussion with your doctor. It is meant to be a catalyst for patient self-advocacy. You and your doctor can work together to decide on a health care plan that is right for your particular condition.
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www.oncimune.com Oncimmune (USA) LLC. company website
www.Mayoclinic.com Lung Cancer
Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.