Helena Biosciences develops automated blood test for chronic liver disease based on VIB and Ghent University research

(16-05-2017) Helena Biosciences is commercialising a new blood test for Chronic Liver Disease (CLD) in cooperation with the Ghent University branch of VIB.

The Glyco Liver Profile will provide healthcare professionals with a comprehensive tool to diagnose and monitor patients with hepatic inflammation, fibrosis and cirrhosis, and identify cirrhosis patients at low and high risk of developing HCC within the years following the test.

Chronic Liver Disease: a heavy burden for our society

Up to 29 million people in the EU suffer from chronic liver disease (CLD). It is no understatement to say that CLD is a silent killer: liver cirrhosis might be less (in)famous than — for example — breast cancer but it is responsible for an estimated 170,000 deaths annually in Europe alone (vs. 100,000 breast cancer deaths). Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC), one of the most serious outcomes of cirrhosis, is the fifth most common cancer in Europe. HCC is responsible for around 47,000 deaths per year. Historically, the leading causes of cirrhosis and HCC have been viral hepatitis and alcohol consumption. Fortunately, new drugs against hepatitis C are now available, but of major concern today, the obesity epidemic leads to increasing prevalence of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) as a leading cause of cirrhosis.

Glyco Liver Profile test has a clear advantage for patients

Glyco Liver Profile or GLP is a novel diagnostic test for chronic liver disease. It has the ability to diagnose and monitor CLD from liver inflammation to early and late stage fibrosis and early cirrhosis diagnosis. With its broad scope, this non-invasive test offers outstanding advantages over other tests on the market. Furthermore, GLP provides a powerful ability to predict a patient’s likelihood of developing HCC within the next 5 years. This is a huge additional benefit which no other non-invasive test can provide.

GLP, a test built on molecular insights

Glyco Liver Profile was first conceived in 2004 by Nico Callewaert and Roland Contreras (VIB-UGent). They collaborated with Hans Van Vlierberghe and Joris Delanghe at UZ Gent for the clinical translation of the technology. The first results led to a publication of this ground-breaking research in Nature Medicine. The test analyses the glycome of serum proteins, which are mainly produced by the liver. Over the last 13 years, the Callewaert lab developed and refined the test to offer a diagnostic test that can now easily be adopted into clinical laboratories on a routine clinical platform: Helena’s V8 Nexus Capillary Electrophoresis analyser. This research project was partly funded by the Industrial Research Fund at Ghent University.

Ready for clinical introduction, Glyco Liver Profile is a mature in vitro diagnostic (IVD) with personalised medicine benefits. It offers an alternative to the currently available costly, invasive and often inaccurate options.  

The Future

Helena Biosciences, with its class of fully-automated capillary electrophoresis analysers, and with multiple installations around the world, will fast-track this essential clinical test to the global market providing unparalleled diagnostic information to clinicians, whilst enhancing the utility of Helena Biosciences’ already well established V8 Nexus analyser.