A blood test which could help to accelerate the diagnosis of brain cancer has been developed in a research lab. The patented technology uses infrared light to produce a "bio-signature" of a blood sample and applies artificial intelligence to check for the signs of cancer.
This research is being commercialized by ClinSpec Diagnostics Limited, an award-winning company spun out from the University in February 2019. The work has now been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Whilst the methodology is simple and does not require extensive sample preparation, the throughput of such an approach is limited. The authors describe the development of instrumentation for the analysis of serum that is able to differentiate cancer and control patients at a sensitivity and specificity of 93.2% and 92.8%.
Furthermore, preliminary data from the first prospective clinical validation study of its kind are presented, demonstrating how this innovative technology can triage patients and allow rapid access to imaging.
The study lead said: "This is the first publication of data from our clinical feasibility study and it is the first demonstration that our blood test works in the clinic. Earlier detection of brain tumors in the diagnostic pathway brings the potential to significantly improve patient quality of life and survival, whilst also providing savings to the health services."
Patients with brain cancer frequently present with non-specific symptoms and the final cancer diagnosis can be time-consuming. The researchers have analyzed samples from a prospective cohort of 104 patients, they found that the blood test could distinguish patients with brain cancer from healthy individuals correctly 87% of the time.
These findings suggest that this approach may be useful to doctors in helping to prioritize patients needing brain scans in order to diagnose tumors. While the proposed system does not offer an absolute diagnosis, it could play a significant role in the diagnostic process as a triage tool.
High-throughput blood test for brain cancer diagnosis
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