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Test to diagnose cancer earlier

Cancer could be detected five years earlier than under current examination methods after the development of what is being heralded as a groundbreaking test.

Research carried out at the University of Nottingham by Oncimmune Ltd has created a new technique, which replicates the proteins that trigger the body's response to cancer. Robotic technology to measure the response was also developed by the company.

The new technology detects immunobiomarkers - produced in response to the presence of certain by-products from cancer cells - and could signal a significant breakthrough in how early a cancer can be detected.

Based on the early work of breast cancer specialist and the university's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Professor of Surgery John Robertson, Oncimmune has made a reproducible commercial test for lung cancer.

The EarlyCDT-Lung test will be launched nationally in the USA this month followed by a UK launch early next year.

Oncimmune was founded in 2003 to commercialise technology developed in Professor Robertson's laboratories.

Executive chairman, Geoffrey Hamilton-Fairley, said: "We believe this test, along with the others we will launch in the next few years, will lead to a better prognosis for a significant number of cancer sufferers."

Initial research results were gathered using blood samples from patients with breast cancer and a group of high risk women attending for annual mammography, the university said.

As well as identifying the signal in the blood of a percentage of women when they developed breast cancer, the results also show the signal could be found in some of the high-risk patients who had given blood samples for a number of years during annual check-ups and before they were subsequently diagnosed with cancer.

When these samples were run retrospectively, Prof Robertson showed the test could have detected more than half of the cancers up to four years before they were actually diagnosed.

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