CellMax Life Inc (合度精密生物科技) yesterday launched a blood-testing service in Taiwan that focuses on screening for early-stage cancer.
The company’s flagship product, CellMax CRC-Protect, is a multi-biomarker blood test aimed at the early detection of colorectal cancer.
The product has been used by more than 500 patients at a number of local hospitals, including Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (林口長庚紀念醫院).
“We aim to transform cancer care away from expensive, intractable late stages to early, more treatable stages,” CellMax Life co-founder and chief operating officer Atul Sharan told a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
Much of the biotechnology sector focuses on expensive late-stage drugs that might not be accessible in developing countries, while survival rates for patients with late-stage cancer diminish rapidly, Sharan added.
The company’s proprietary CMx technology platform screens for cancer by detecting traces of circulating early-stage tumor cells that are shed from the primary tumor site into the bloodstream, CellMax science team chief Shao Hung-jen (邵宏仁) said.
Abnormal cells should be detected by the screening product before they turn into precancerous cells and metastasize, Shao said.
The platform uses a biomimetic, lipid-bilayer coated microfluidic chip to identify circulating tumor cells cells in patients’ blood samples, Shao said.
As the test requires a blood sample, it is an attractive option for patients who are averse to fecal occult blood tests, stool samples or colonoscopies, Shao said.
However, the test is not intended to replace existing examinations, but is designed to be used as an additional diagnostic tool by physicians, Shao said.
A woman said in a testimonial video that after using a CellMax screening product and consulting her physician, she agreed to have intestinal surgery that removed eight polyps and minimized her chances of contracting colon cancer.
Chao recommended that people who are at high risk of developing colon cancer undergo annual screening, adding that each of the firm’s tests costs about NT$15,000.
CellMax’s other products include testing of genetic risk, liquid biopsies and recurrence monitoring.
The company also announced US$9 million in series A-1 venture funding to scale commercial operations of its blood test product portfolio.
The funding was led by Silicon Valley-based Artiman Ventures and several Taiwanese venture investors, including Acer founder and former chairman Stan Shih (施振榮).
The company has so far accumulated US$14 million in venture capital.
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