VisionGate, Inc., a biotech company in the early lung cancer detection space, announced, Thursday, it acquired exclusive rights to the University of Colorado’s patent for the use of the drug Iloprost in the prevention of lung cancer.

This makes VisionGate one of the first companies to evolve from a diagnostic company to a diagnostic and therapeutic company, according to VisionGate.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered that Iloprost – a drug currently utilized for the treatment of various lung diseases such as pulmonary arterial hypertension – in a successfully completed Phase II clinical trial, demonstrated a 20 percent reduction of overall dysplasia, a precancer condition, in former smokers and a 40 percent reduction in the protocol compliant group.

According to University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus professor and director of the NCI Lung Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) Dr. Paul Bunn, it not only repairs smoking-caused lung damage in former smokers, but as demonstrated in other cancers, the reversal of the precancer condition called dysplasia can prevent cancer.

VisionGate’s non-invasive test for lung cancer, LuCED, recently delivered blinded study results demonstrating 92 percent sensitivity to lung cancer and 98 percent specificity.

LuCED also has indicated an ability to detect various tumor types and stages of lung cancer, including Stage I and even dysplasia (precancerous cells). The high-risk lung cancer market includes 9 million Americans, but there is a need to help an additional 26 million who don’t fall within the CMS-defined, high-risk market segment.

“We are ushering in a new era that boldly attempts to eradicate lung cancer, the world’s  number one cancer killer,” said Dr. Alan Nelson, VisionGate Chairman and CEO. “For years, VisionGate has focused on the early detection of lung cancer where we have become the technology leader in non-invasive cell-based early detection. For the first time, we can now detect the pre-cancer condition and provide a chemoprevention therapy to reverse it. Now more than ever, we are determined to make a lasting worldwide impact on this deadly disease.”

Together, VisionGate and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus will continue the work being conducted as part of the SPORE grant. Next steps include conducting a Phase IIB validation trial where LuCED is compared with biopsy, leading to the Phase III trial.

“We are excited to accelerate the Phase III trial for Iloprost with LuCED as the diagnostic tool to help find those patients with dysplasia,” Bunn said. “We are highly encouraged by the results of our Phase II trial on Iloprost, and now the possibility of combining Iloprost and LuCED could be game changing.”