50+ health * Healthy living

New blood test for early cancer detection

blood test for early detection of cancer Developed by UK company

A new blood test that can detect cancer as much as five years earlier than existing tests has been developed by a UK company spun out of the University of Nottingham.

By replicating cancer proteins that trigger the body's own defence against cancer and then measuring this response with advanced robotic detection technology the new test is able to diagnose a cancer tumour.

This is likely to be of use in cancers such as colon, lung, prostate, ovary and breast cancer.

Building on work carried out by John Robertson, a world renowned breast cancer specialist and Professor of Surgery in The University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, the company, Oncimmune, has now developed the test to a state that it can be launched as a commercial proposition - beginning with a test for lung cancer which will be available in the US this month (June 2010) followed by the UK early next year.

Initial research for the test used blood samples from patients with breast cancer and also from a group of high risk women attending annual mammography screening. The samples were subject to the test and it successfully identified the cancer cells in a percentage of the women with cancer. It was also able to detect cancer in some of the woman in the high risk group before they were actually diagnosed with cancer by other means.

Further analysis on previous samples showed that the new test could have detected the cancer in half of the cases up to four years before they were actually diagnosed.

A study involving researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the USA recorded similar results using blood samples from a study of CT scans to screen for lung cancer where antibodies were detected up to five years before the lung cancers were diagnosed. A number of other academic centres have reported similar results.

Professor Robertson commented: "I am very pleased that the initial exciting research data that we produced in the laboratories at The University of Nottingham a number of years ago have been translated by Oncimmune to the first of many tests that will help us identify cancer early."

This article was published on Wed 2 June 2010

Image © Alexander Raths - Fotolia.com

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