Life Science Group is delighted to be part of a consortium led by Welsh scientists at Aberystwyth University. The consortium aims to develop a novel and potentially disruptive lateral flow device for the early-stage detection of lung cancer. This project has secured a £1 million Advancing Precision Medicine grant from Innovate UK and the Office of Life Sciences. Lung cancer, which accounts for nearly 50,000 annual cases in the UK, surpasses all other forms of cancer in terms of mortality rates, placing a substantial burden on the NHS with annual expenses totalling a staggering £2.4 billion.

Detecting lung cancer in its early stages has long presented a formidable challenge as clinical symptoms typically manifest when the tumour has already reached a significant size or has extended beyond the lungs. Surgical intervention remains a viable option for only one in eight patients, leaving the majority with treatments aimed at managing their incurable condition.

In the pursuit of improved early detection, scientists are diligently working to create a test capable of swiftly identifying individuals who would benefit the most from further evaluation. Leveraging research from Aberystwyth University, this ambitious project aims to develop a cutting-edge multi-screen test kit designed to detect lung cancer biomarkers – tiny chemical indicators – present in urine.

This innovative approach relies on antibodies developed to identify six distinct biomarkers found in urine, combined into a single lateral flow device using technology developed by Highfield Diagnostics, that can diagnose lung cancer with an impressive 90% accuracy, even in its earliest stages, long before clinical symptoms become apparent.

This is a collaborative effort with key partners, including Life Science Group, Highfield Diagnostics, ProTEM Services, Valley Diagnostics, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Aberystwyth University.

Professor Luis Mur from Aberystwyth University expressed his optimism, stating, “We hope that this important collaboration can apply the world-leading research here in Aberystwyth and make a real difference. Once the test is fully developed, we hope it can be used in GP surgeries or at home.”

Jenny Murray, Managing Director of the Life Science Group and Project Lead emphasised the global impact of this technology, noting, “This technology has the potential to revolutionise diagnostic testing not only in the UK but globally, especially in countries where access to diagnostic centres is limited. The team is confident that this device, and others that will follow, will not only save lives but also demonstrate significant savings within the NHS, reshape the diagnostic pathway, and generate employment opportunities in Wales and revenue for the UK as a whole.”

Although the test is still in its early development stages, it is designed for ease of use and follows the lateral flow method that became familiar during the COVID-19 pandemic but uses urine as the test medium. This collaborative effort involving Welsh academics, UK commercial partners, and several hospitals in Wales is actively seeking funding to scale up production in a new facility in South Wales.

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