Fort Lauderdale-based Vigilant Biosciences, which has developed dental and lab toolkits for early detection of oral cancer, has been awarded part of a multi-million dollar grant for a study from the National Institutes of Health.
The five-year study will enroll 300 mouth and throat cancer patients and control subjects at institutes including University of California at San Diego’s Department of Surgery, New York University, Johns Hopkins and Greater Baltimore Medical Center, the company said.
Dr. Joseph Califano, professor of surgery at UC-San Diego, said “the promise of an easy, low-cost test for head and neck cancer has the potential to benefit millions of people around the world.”
The OncAlert Oral Cancer line is currently available in key markets outside the U.S. In 2016, Vigilant received European Commission approval to market its oral cancer test.
The company was founded in 2011 by Matthew H.K. Kim, who was inspired by his family history of oral and other cancers. His father died at age 79 in 2015 after surviving with the disease for many years; his mother is a seven-year survivor.
Vigilant’s technology is based on more than 15 years of research and clinical studies by Dr. Elizabeth Franzmann at University of Miami. She is now Vigilant’s chief scientific officer.
The company has raised more than $12.5 million from investors in Florida and elsewhere.
There are more than 529,000 cases of oral cancer each year, resulting in 292,000 deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization.