A major breakthrough by a Glasgow-based tech company could rapidly enhance the early detection of brain cancer.
Research from Dxcover in the Cancers academic journal shows that the company’s liquid biopsy technology is effective even during the early stages of cancer growth, when tumours are far smaller.
Earlier detection of cancer is shown to massively reduce harm from surgery and other treatments, with patients living better and for longer.
Figures from Cancer Research UK show that 12,000 people in Britain are diagnosed with brain tumours every year, and survival rates can be as low as just 12% five years after diagnosis.
Dxcover says that by detecting tumours in the very early stages, its early testing technology could significantly shorten the time to diagnosis and save lives.
A spinout from the University of Strathclyde, Dxcover has raised £5.1m in funding to develop its Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) platform since launching in 2019.
Dr Matt Baker, Chief Technical Officer & Co-Founder at Dxcover Limited, said: “This is a watershed moment in the development of early cancer detection.
“The study demonstrates the effectiveness of our Dxcover Brain Cancer Liquid Biopsy at detecting even the smallest brain tumours, which is great news for the care of future brain cancer patients, increasing treatment options and potentially extending life expectancy.”
Published 30th July 2021, the journal confirmed the Dxcover Brain Cancer test as being effective in identifying small and low-grade gliomas.
The study involved 177 patients with varying sizes of brain tumours providing blood samples for analysis by Dxcover. The samples were analysed under infra-red light and processed using machine learning software.
The test and analysis were found to be effective in identifying brain tumours in patients with gliomas as small as 0.2cm3.
Dr Paul Brennan, Reader in Neurosurgery and Consultant Neurosurgeon at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Brain tumour diagnosis is difficult, because the most common symptoms are not specific to brain tumours.
“A non-cancer diagnosis is more likely, and this contributes to diagnostic delay. The Dxcover test will support primary care doctors to identify which of these patients are most likely to have a brain tumour and should be referred for rapid brain imaging.
This will be transformative for both patients and doctors”, he added.
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The breakthrough coincides with the company announcing that it has wholly acquired all the intellectual property (IP) rights for its Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) platform in a deal with the University of Strathclyde.
The IP deal means that Dxcover now owns all of the patents for its MCED technology platform and has no requirement to pay royalties.
Commenting on the IP acquisition, Dr Mark Hegarty, CEO and Co-founder of Dxcover, added: “We have been developing an extensive patent portfolio to protect the commercialisation of our technology.
“The core patents have been granted in Europe, the USA and China and they enable us to develop tests for all types of cancer.
“Full ownership of all of the IP has been a strategic goal since we formed the company, as this enables greater flexibility in striking collaborative partnerships and commercial deals.”