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Kiwi biotech company using genetic testing to diagnose prostate cancer

development of a new prostate cancer test based on gene sequencing technology that could replace the inaccurate and outdated PSA blood test currently in use.

kristen_labHuman genome sequencing has sure come a long way, baby. The Human Genome Project, started way back in 1990, took 13 years to sequence the first human genome and cost a hefty $3 billion. Fast forward to today, and that same process can be performed in 24 hours and costs less than $1000.

But when it comes to hot-button ethical issues, they don’t come much hotter than the ethics of DNA sequencing. The subject quickly brings to mind uneasy visions of dystopian futures where the value of human life is reduced to the value of its DNA, where ‘geonism’, or discrimination based on genetic predisposition, is the norm.

That, however, is hardly the full picture when it comes to the perils and potential of Next-Gen Sequencing (NGS). Because on the other side of that problematic coin is the ability of Next Generation Sequencers to diagnose life threatening illnesses hyper-accurately and on a massive scale, allowing early intervention and treatment of otherwise intractable illnesses.

That’s the space which New Zealand biotech company Caldera Health is currently exploring, identifying biomarkers and developing sophisticated software diagnostic tools for revealing prostate cancers in men. The company is using Next-Gen Sequencing to identify and measure multiple different genetic markers that occur in prostate cancers, enabling medical staff to make more informed diagnoses and better decisions around treatment options.

Read the full Idealog article here

Caldera Health asks men to give biopsy sample to help prove prostate cancer test

Fiona Rotherham reports in NBR on Caldera’s seeking biopsy sample from Kiwi men to help prove it’s prostate cancer test.

Caldera-Graham-Watt

Graham Watt

Friday 18th September 2015 – Caldera Health, a New Zealand biotech company working on a gene-sequencing replacement for the world’s most widely used prostate cancer test, is seeking more biopsy sample from Kiwi men to help prove its concept.

Caldera managing director Graham Watt said he wants at least 50 samples by the end of the year though would eventually like to build up to at least 200 to help prove the credibility of its proprietary gene-sequencing test.

The medical diagnostic firm has been receiving a few samples by working in conjunction with Auckland urologists, but Watt said it’s not sufficient for its needs and is now asking me throughout New Zealand to also give their permission for the company to be sent a slither of their biopsy sample when they’re presenting with possible prostate cancer.

Read the full NBR article here

Read the stuff.co.nz article here

NZ biotech firm makes giant strides in cancer fight

ComputerWorld New Zealand‘s Randal Jackson speaks with Caldera’s Graham Watt and Kristen Chalmet

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13 May 2015– A privately owned New Zealand biotech company has made huge progress in developing a replacement for the PSA prostate cancer test.

At present, there are 100 million PSA tests conducted worldwide each year but the test reliability suffers from false negative and false positive results with PSA testing costing global health systems around US$2 billion annually.

Caldera Ltd was established in 2010 as a molecular diagnostic development company. Prostate cancer is its first target, though the current development work has the potential, eventually, to target all cancers.

Breast cancer would be be the next target, says managing director Graham Watt.

Read the full Computerworld New Zealand article here

Tackling a killer

Idealog‘s Matt Philp reports on Caldera Health’s progress and the passing of Dr Richard Forster.

Image from Tackling a Killer (3) (A)

It’s been a bitter-sweet start to 2014 for Caldera Health, the Auckland company bidding to develop a new diagnostic tool for prostate cancer. Early signs that that first round of clinical trials are likely to produce a positive result have been overshadowed by the death in January of co-founder, Dr Richard Foster, one of our most brilliant and entrepreneurial scientists and arguably best known publicly for his founding role with biofuel venture, LanzaTech.

Forster’s death leaves his Caldera co-founder Jim Watson to carry on the quest to produce a more reliable test for the second biggest cancer killer of Kiwi men. It was anger at the misdiagnosis of their prostate cancer that inspired the two scientists to launch Caldera in 2009.

PROSTATE SCIENTISTS: A life and death double act

On Prostablog, Jim Tucker profiled Caldera’s founders, Drs Jim Watson and Richard Forster.

(Posted on August 2, 2009. Excerpted here by kind permission of Jim Tucker.)

One has identified a novel prostate cancer-stopping compound he’s about to trial on himself, while the other is looking at genes to see why he and his family get a rare and undiscoverable version of the disease:

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Jim Watson (left) and Richard Forster (right) are a double act.

This pair of late middle-aged men – one tall, the other compact, both fit-looking – could be about to present a comedy show, so polished and warm is their demeanour.

But there’s nothing funny about what they’re about to tell us.

In fact, it’s a matter of life and death. Theirs – and quite possibly that of millions of men around the world.

Drs Jim and Richard are eminent New Zealand scientists, and they both have advanced prostate cancer.