A UNIQUE BLOOD TEST FOR CANCER
Oncascan Limited is developing a unique type of blood test for cancer which, used in conjunction with existing methods of screening and diagnosis, could greatly improve their overall performance. Specifically this improved performance would lead to far fewer unnecessary invasive follow up procedures.
Adopting the new test could result in widespread multiple benefits:
- for patients (reduced stress, risk or discomfort arising from interventions);
- for clinicians (greater speed and accuracy of diagnosis); and
- for health service providers (substantial cost savings).
WHAT IS THE TEST?
Known as the lymphocyte genome sensitivity (“LGS”) test, it is based on a discovery and an invention both made at the University of Bradford, Yorkshire, England. The discovery is that the genome of lymphocytes of cancer patients, even at a very early stage of the disease, is subtly different from that of healthy individuals. The invention is a practical way to measure this difference.
Oncascan Limited holds an exclusive worldwide licence to the patents and know-how associated with the lymphocyte genome sensitivity invention.
During 2012 the test has been refined. Data from the latest version is very promising and demonstrates how the cancer status of a patient can be ascertained accurately, quickly and easily.
HOW COULD THE LGS TEST BE USED IN PRACTICE?
So far the LGS test has been tried on patients with bowel, breast, lung, prostate and skin cancer. The results are similar which suggests that it might behave in the same way with other cancers as well, although this is not yet known. Thus one possibility is that the LGS test could be used as a cost effective way to screen an entire population. In the shorter term though we expect it to be used in a different way by focussing on its ability to indicate, with a high degree of certainty, that a given patient does NOT have cancer.
For example, in England, a large percentage of people referred to a hospital consultant by their GP with suspected bowel cancer will have a colonoscopy (which is an excellent diagnostic tool). However only quite a small proportion of these people will actually have cancer (or polyps that require removal). If colonoscopies were restricted to those with an LGS score above an appropriate cut off, a large number of unnecessary interventions could be avoided whilst still ensuring that patients who would benefit from the procedure were so treated. Analogous situations apply with other cancers.
The company now plans to raise sufficient finance to:
- carry out more extensive evaluations of the test in typical hospital settings; and
- develop the automation of the LGS test so that it can be deployed on a large scale.