Mursla gains mentorship support from Roche Diagnostics Ltd for pilot study in cirrhotic and liver cancer patients


Cambridge and London, UK, 29th March 2022: Mursla, a novel multi-omics exosome characterisation company, is pleased to announce that it has secured mentorship support from Roche Diagnostics Ltd for a new liquid biopsy prospective pilot study for liver cancer surveillance through MedCity’s Collaborate to Innovate: London Diagnostics programme. Liver cancer is the third most common cause of premature cancer death worldwide and its incidence has increased significantly over other forms of cancer in the last three decades. 

Mursla’s aim is to develop a blood test that can detect early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) more effectively than the current standard of care. To this end, the primary objective of the prospective pilot study is to select and confirm the relevance of novel HCC biomarkers for a larger longitudinal study demonstrating high clinical performance in a more tailored cohort. A secondary objective is the assessment of Mursla’s tissue-specific and multi-omics exosome approach as proof of concept for the development of other related cancer liquid biopsy tests.

To enable the pilot study, Mursla will leverage its proprietary multi-omics exosome characterisation platform technology for the discovery and profiling of exosome phenotypes, ExoPheno™. It consists of proprietary and patented technologies, which integrate wet lab (validated exosome tissue-of-origin markers, pre-analytical multi-omics sequencing workflow and ultrasensitive exosome marker detection systems) and dry lab analysis via machine learning.

Hundreds of blood samples will be prospectively collected by Tissue Access for Patient Benefit (TAPB), a University of College London (UCL) and NHS initiative based at the Royal Free Hospital in London, UK, and by Biobanco-IMM Lisbon Academic Medical Center Portugal in collaboration with Gastroenterology Service at Hospital de Santa Maria in Lisbon, Portugal. The samples will then be characterised by ExoPheno™ to establish differences in the multi-omics cargo of specific exosome sub-populations between patients with various chronic liver diseases and cancer at various stages. In addition, Roche Diagnostics Ltd will support Mursla in bringing its solution to the clinic by sharing its expertise and best practice in evidence generation, scaling up and market access. 

First generation liquid biopsy tests measure circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) mutations and/or epigenetic markers (such as ctDNA methylation or fragmentation patterns) with low positive predictive value (PPV) for early-stage cancer detection, potentially leading to millions of distressing false positives. Mursla intends to improve PPV with its novel ExoPheno™ platform which:

● Uses tissue-of-origin markers to capture tissue-specific exosomes in blood.
● Detects specific multi-omics disease markers (including DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids and metabolites) contained in exosomes, mirroring the parental cell with disease. 
● Focuses on dynamic information released by living cells in exosomes, not by dying cells in the case of ctDNA.

Gerard Harkin, Head of Innovation UK & Ireland, Roche Diagnostics Ltd 
commented: “We are delighted to support the MedCity programme that encourages innovations in diagnostics and to provide in-kind mentorship to Mursla. In the field of cancer, we see the potential for new technologies to significantly improve the existing standard of care."

Pierre Arsène, Founder and CEO, Mursla added: “We are very pleased to receive the support of Roche’s UK team for the application of our novel exosome characterisation platform in early-stage liver cancer detection and beyond. We believe that the specific multi-omics information carried by blood exosomes from the tumor and its microenvironment will enable the next generation of liquid biopsy tests.”

The collaboration has been enabled via Collaborate to Innovate: London Diagnostics, a MedCity programme, which is part grant-funded by the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP). Collaborate to Innovate is an initiative that streamlines the process for building effective collaborations between SMEs and academia, commercial and non-profit partners, by helping SMEs to refine and validate their promising early-stage innovative scientific developments in their journey to provide established commercial solutions. 

Mursla is one of nine successful SMEs to be selected to proceed with its study having been chosen by a panel comprising leading experts from Cancer Research UK, NHS England, BIVDA, LifeArc and world leading London academic institutions. Mursla will retain full intellectual and economic rights.

Media Contact Information: 

Sarah Brereton, Director, Limewash                                
Tel: 07796 583 223