ClinSpec Diagnostics, a spinout of the University of Strathclyde in the UK, has announced the development of a new blood test to enable early identification of brain cancer.
The test is said to be inexpensive and can deliver accurate results in a short timeframe, which in turn could cut delays in referral times.
It is based on the work by University of Strathclyde researcher Matthew Baker, who devised infrared spectroscopy-based approaches to analyse blood serum for the detection of cancer.
Baker developed the diagnostic algorithm in alliance with a colleague, David Palmer.
The new blood test is believed to possess the potential to offer information on the type and severity of the cancer. Doctors can use the information to prioritise and fast-track appropriate and effective therapies.
Currently, clinical studies are being conducted in Edinburgh to accelerate the development of the technology. The blood test is expected to be available for use in UK hospitals in three to four years.
ClinSpec Diagnostics is working to create additional blood tests for other diseases, including pancreatic and prostate cancer.
Scotland Business Minister Jamie Hepburn announced a funding of £600,000 to support the company’s spinout as well as development of the brain cancer test.
Hepburn said: “The blood test demonstrates significant advancements in cancer detection methods, and will play a vital role in helping to save lives. This technology also paves the way for similar blood tests to be developed in the future for other diseases.”
Brain cancer, which is difficult to detect and diagnose, is characterised by headache, a common symptom in multiple other health conditions that may not be life threatening.
At present, nearly 38% of patients make more than five visits to their GP before being diagnosed with brain cancer, while 62% are only identified in an emergency. This is believed to be the reason for reduced life expectancy associated with brain cancer, compared to other cancers.