There’s no shortage of ASX small caps trying to fight cancer.

The number of people living with cancer continues to grow around the world. The World Health Organisation predicts next year there will be 4.5 million new cancer cases and 6.7 million by 2040 – and that’s just in China. Globally there are 15 million today.

“Cancer is affecting everybody – almost everyone knows someone who has had it,” Invitrocue’s (ASX:IVQ) vice president of operations Martin Bach told Stockhead.

But while many ASX small caps are developing drugs, Invitrocue’s specialty is helping doctors make better decisions regarding treatment options.


Test on evidence rather than predictions

Invitrocue’s Onco-PDO test takes a portion of a patient’s tissue and makes it into a cellular structure that proposed treatments can be tested on to see what works best. Each test takes three days and oncologists receive the results in a fortnight.

Dr Bach believes better peace of mind would come with knowing what a patient’s best chance is based on their own body – since every patient is different.

“People are afraid of the unknown – but would I go with cancer treatment if I knew I had a 90 per cent chance? I would,” Dr Bach said.

Cancer patients are presented with their chances of survival as a percentage rather than a definitive answer.

“We can’t ask oncologists to follow, we’re not saying ‘you must follow us’. But once you talk to them and they see the results, they are happy,” he said.


Why list in Australia?

Invitrocue began in 2012 as a spin-off from the Singapore government’s science arm, which still owns a 1.92 per cent stake according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg data shows that the Singapore exchange has just over 30 healthcare companies with a combined market cap of $10 billion, while Australia has over 170 worth just under $200 billion collectively.

Bach explained the business initially listed in Australia because of Dr Fang’s connections in the country. But he hinted that listing in other markets was a possibility and did not think compliance was a heavy burden.

“Being listed attracts investors,” he said. “We need to be in front of our audience and explain what we are doing.”

Unfortunately for shareholders the stock has not traded since August. But only last week it announced Hong Kong-based investment fund ChinaLink had agreed to invest $US10m ($14.6m). This is subject to shareholder approval and completion of a validation study into Onco-PDO.

Stockhead asked about when Invitrocue would likely start trading again, and Dr Fang said it was up to the ASX, noting that “from our side everything has been done”.


Other markets

The company has a heavy focus on Asia because of its high population of people with cancer, as well as its local partners such as China’s Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences.

It also has connections in Europe, particularly in Spain and Germany where it has done tests. The latter hosts its European headquarters.

While other small caps may be vying for a share of the American market, Invitrocue says it isn’t interested in that particular market because of the difficulty surrounding regulation over there.

But Asia was by far the most exciting market, according to the company.

“You need to team up with the right people,” said Dr Bach,” So we will always be cautious with whom we partner with.”

”The market [in Asia] is there, even if we get only 10 per cent that is still hundreds of thousands.”

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