For UK company ANGLE plc, a pioneer of medical diagnostics, partnerships are everything. Headquartered just outside of London, ANGLE is working with some of the most prestigious cancer research and clinical centers across the UK and Europe.
When it came time to launch the company in the U.S., Philadelphia, with its concentration of world–class academic and clinical institutions, was the logical choice for ANGLE's North American headquarters. Philadelphia was also home to the development of the core technology used in the Parsortix cell separation system.
In 2011 the company moved to the Science Center's Port business incubator and joined the Global Soft Landing Program, which leverages the resources of the region's academic, clinical, and professional communities to help foreign companies establish a foothold in U.S. life sciences and technology markets.
"Being at the Science Center allowed us to quickly expand our global footprint to include key collaborations here in the U.S.," says Peggy Robinson, vice president for ANGLE North America. ANGLE initially worked with the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University to validate its lead product, Parsortix, and is subsequently working with key cancer centers across the country, such as MD Anderson Cancer Center and Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Parsortix can capture very rare circulating tumor cells — often only one in a billion healthy cells in blood — that can be early and sensitive indicators of metastatic cancer. "We can literally find that needle in the haystack," Robinson says. Because blood can be drawn often, Parsortix allows oncologists the opportunity to more closely monitor cancer patients and their responses to treatment — a distinct advantage over traditional imaging studies that can only be done every few months.
The Port's turnkey location enabled ANGLE to get up and running quickly with affordable office and lab space, as well as to access expensive shared lab equipment. Christopher Wagner, an ANGLE scientist, appreciates the sense of energy and innovation generated by the companies in the space. "There is a lot of diversity with different types of companies, a lot of exposure to different ideas," he says. "The vibe is academia meets entrepreneurship."
Today Parsortix is conducting clinical studies for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer, and is in the FDA clearance process to be marketed in the U.S. And Robinson is enthusiastic. "It's an exciting product with the potential to impact many lives."