Monday, June 25, 2012

Blood Test for Canine Lymphoma may also help people

U.K.-based Petscreen has developed a blood test that detects early stage lymphosarcoma in dogs using biomarkers. The company found the test may also benefit human patients and is developing a similar screening process for people. The test won’t be available for humans for at least three to five years.

Petscreen has already launched a test to diagnose lymphoma in dogs and the business, which has won almost £100,000 of government-backed funding for its research, is now developing a simple blood test to determine if a human has early-stage lymphoma.

Their test uses biomarkers – a marker found in blood or urine that changes when a certain disease is present – to detect the cancer.

“What we’re looking for are proteins that can be easily detected in a non-invasive way, ie just from a simple blood sample which would then indicate the presence of a tumour. You want to be able to pick up the tumour early, confidently and non-invasively,” said Kevin Slater, Petscreen’s chief executive.

“The holy grail is to try to make these tests specific,” he added. Petscreen achieves this, said Dr Slater, by using an algorithm to measure a number of different biomarkers.

Through their research to develop the canine test, he added that “almost by serendipity”, Petscreen discovered that a similar test could be applied in humans.

With a £99,000 grant from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Petscreen last month began trialling its method in 100 patients with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Petscreen’s initial trial will take a year and any human test could take three to five years to get to market. If successful, it could simplify and speed up diagnosis, as well as monitor remission. Currently, lymphoma – the sixth-commonest form of cancer in Britain – is diagnosed through a biopsy and scan.

Petscreen was established in 2004 by Dr Slater, along with Graeme Radcliffe, a former journalist, after the pair met at a cricket match.

Dr Slater said the TSB funding will help Petscreen develop a ‘proof of concept’ and the business will later need further investment or a partnership with a major pharmaceutical company.


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