VolitionRx Limited (NYSEAmerican:VNRX) strengthened its balance sheet and grew its patents in 2018 as the cancer-focused life sciences company continued to advance the development of its novel blood tests to cover testing for several cancers as well as other diseases.
CEO Cameron Reynolds says further development of Volition’s Nu.Q Capture and Nu.Q Vet products as well as the strengthening of Volition’s product pipeline beyond colorectal cancer to include several cancers and other diseases will help “drive early revenue.”
The Isnes, Belgium-based company has designed a routine blood test to screen for colorectal and prostate cancers that reduces the need for more invasive colonoscopies and biopsies. It could also work as a screening tool for endometriosis and has potential veterinary uses as well.
Last year, the company bolstered its balance sheet thanks to existing investors exercising $6.7 million in outstanding warrants to purchase shares of stock. As of the end of December, its cash position came to $13.4 million, up from $10.1 million at the close of 2017.
It also managed cash carefully with a steady average quarterly burn (or cash used in operating activities) of about $3.9 million during 2018.
On the patent front, VolitionRx has been granted seven US patents, seven patents in the EU, and another 25 patents worldwide. On top of this, a further 106 patents are pending around the world.
The company has also had considerable success with clinical trials as underlined by the preliminary results from its first product grade assays.
“During 2018, we, together with our collaborators, have made significant progress, particularly with the work on the basics of our Nu.QTM platform and its expansion into exciting new areas,” added Reynolds in a statement.
READ: VolitionRx's Nu.Q blood-based diagnostic tests offer great potential, says Oppenheimer analyst
In a recent lung cancer cohort, involving 76 subjects, a single Nu.Q assay test detected lung cancer, including stage 1 lung cancer. A second lung cancer study, evaluating 152 subjects, also detected lung cancer and third study using a single Nu.Q assay to determine the presence of colorectal cancer in 123 subjects also picked up the presence of colorectal cancer with an Area Under the Curve (AUC) of 72%.
“The above proof of concept results give us confidence to move onto potentially dozens of other assays that we have under development, and the large range of cohorts and trials we have collected and planned,” VolitionRx said in a statement.
In other advances, VolitionRx is also seeing encouraging preliminary results from the use of its Nu.Q. platform in veterinary medicine after discovering that nucleosomes in the blood can also be detected in dogs. The company is working with Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine to conduct a study of Nu.Q Vet, a key target market for early revenue given the simpler regulatory pathway for veterinary products.
It’s also developing Nu.Q. Capture, which investigates the use of Nucleosomics to purify or enrich tumor-associated nucleosomes. The first studies have shown that Nu.Q Capture is able to deplete or enrich nucleosomes by 70 to 90% using magnetic beads in serum and plasma. “This is still a work in progress, but it is a great first step and one our scientific team is extremely excited by,” Volition said in its release.
Volition’s operations are still in the research and development stage and the company reported no revenue last year.
Outlook in focus
Looking ahead to 2019, VolitionRx is set to advance its large-scale colorectal cancer trials in Europe, the US and Asia.
It’s also planning a route to revenue for Nu.Q Vet with the aim of having a US Department of Agriculture-approved product in 2020.
Also on the agenda is a clinical trial program for lung cancer that focuses initially on the significant need for testing in Asia and China in particular.
Preliminary results evaluating Nu.Q’s performance in detecting other diseases, including endometriosis, are also expected, and so are the results of multiple proof of concept cancer studies that include prostate, pancreatic, ovarian and head and neck in addition to the company’s 27-cancer study.
VolitionRx is hosting a Capital Markets day at the New York Stock Exchange on April 9, which will include presentations from both Professor Axel Imhof of the Biomedical Center of the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich and Heather Wilson-Robles, an associate professor at Texas A&M's Veterinary School.
VolitionRx shares closed at $3.45 on Wednesday.
Contact Ellen Kelleher at [email protected]