Oxford study aims to detect lung cancer early with simple blood test
200 patients are being recruited, with experts looking for molecules like proteins that may be a sign.
One way of detecting lung cancer before a CT scan – by examining proteins in the blood – could easily be integrated into existing NHS programmes.
So says a team of Oxford scientists and clinicians who will be recruiting people over the next 3 years to look for the biomarkers.
They say the simple test could save health services money and potentially save lives.
The team from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Oxford Radcliffe Biobank and local spin-out Oxford Cancer Analytics will identify molecules, such as proteins, in the blood that are a sign of lung cancer.
It is by far the leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK, accounting for around 21% of deaths.
But more than 75% of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage, and this situation has worsened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
dr Daniel Szulc, Chief Product Officer at OXcan, said: “There is currently no minimally invasive, affordable and scalable screening test for lung cancer that limits survival rates compared to many other adult cancers. When lung cancer is diagnosed early, a patient’s survival rate increases tenfold, which is why we are so excited to develop a test that can detect lung cancer early when patients are undergoing surgery with curative intentions and ultimately improve survival.”
“If successful, this could easily be integrated into existing NHS programs to transform patients’ experiences with cancer care pathways, reduce anxiety and improve the quality of life for those at high risk of cancer, while reducing costs and significantly.” financial benefits to patients will be achieved on the NHS.”
The study, which will run until December 2025, uses machine learning software to analyze the data on proteins in liquid biopsies.
It is able to identify the telltale biomarker signature that indicates someone has lung cancer, including those who are in the early stages of the disease or at risk.
dr Ella Mi, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Medical Oncology at the University of Oxford and OUH said: “We want to see if it is possible to detect lung cancer earlier than with a CT scan. The tumor would have to be of a certain size to be selected by a CT scan, while we expect to be able to detect the biomarkers much earlier.”