Cancer Research UK’s commercial arm, Cancer Research Technology (CRT), and clinical diagnostics development company, Varleigh Dx (UK), have jointly introduced a new test to help the diagnosis of patients suffering with pancreatic cancer.

The test, which is now CE marked, is available for diagnostic use across the UK.

This launch is claimed to coincide with a research published in a journal indicating that the test, which detects a protein called MCM5 involved in cell replication, can help in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, supporting traditional cytological methods.

"This test for pancreatic cancer is the first of a number of new tests for MCM5 technology that we are developing to assist in the early detection of cancer."

The test is carried out on samples which are routinely taken as part of the pancreatic cancer management pathway.

Regular cytology tests look at cells collected from the tumour, but sometimes they are not sufficiently sensitive to offer an exact diagnosis. Several repeat procedures are often required to get a right diagnosis.

The researchers indicated that using the MCM5 test alongside standard cytology testing helped support the diagnosis of patients who had received unclear results from repeat cytological tests.

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The new laboratory test makes use of a simple colourimetric test to measure the concentration of antibodies bound to the MCM5 protein, which is present at higher levels in cells that are dividing quickly, such as those found in malignant tumours.

Varleigh Dx director Clive Richardson said: “This test for pancreatic cancer is the first of a number of new tests for MCM5 technology that we are developing to assist in the early detection of cancer.”

Varleigh Dx by CRT received the licensing rights to commercialise the MCM5 assay, which is also called as the ELISA test, after the protein biomarker was first identified as a cancer biomarker by Cancer Research UK-funded researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Cancer Research Technology director of business development Dr Phil L’Huillier said: “It’s always hugely satisfying to see discoveries originally made in the lab by Cancer Research UK scientists and licenced by CRT now reaching the stage where they can benefit patients and we’re delighted to have worked with Varleigh Dx to have made this possible.

“This should mean that more patients with this aggressive form of cancer can be diagnosed at the earliest possible stage, without having to undergo multiple invasive procedures.”