The & # 039; kit & # 039; Basque to detect instantly with a drop of blood if you have lung cancer

The lung cancer It is one of those with the worst prognosis, not only due to the aggressiveness of the tumor, but also due to the difficulty of performing an early diagnosis. In fact, eight out of ten cases are detected at an advanced stage, which means that the five-year survival rate is currently between 15% and 20%. In recent times, much progress has been made in the diagnosis and treatment – at the beginning of the decade, the survival rate barely reached 5% – although this carcinogenic pathology still plagues a lot of face to the research work.

The fight against lung cancer has many edges. And in this permanent battle, the Indicate project (In vitro diagnostic cancer test) aims to "revolutionize diagnostic systems", as highlighted by their researchers, who are developing a device that allows to detect this pathology in a "fast and simple", like a pregnancy test. The pretense is that the patient knows instantly through a blood test whether he has this tumor or not.

The current PCR tests to detect lung cancer "are not exempt from failures" and, in addition, the patient must wait between two and four weeks to know the result of the test. In this scenario, the researchers involved in the project intend that the patient can know the result of the test in the same appointment with the doctor. With this, it is possible to "reduce the stress" of the patient and his family, who must no longer wait with uncertainty to the results, and make it possible to start As soon as possible the treatment in a personalized way.

The diagnosis is based on a liquid biopsy. The idea is that the patient submits to a prick of blood, as if it were a blood glucose test, so that the analysis of the blood drop should be "sufficient" to detect lung cancer, according to Charles Lawrie, who leads the project as director of the Oncology area of Biodonostia. The sanitary research institute located in San Sebastian heads an investigation involving three other centers of first level: the cooperative research center in biomaterials CIC biomaGUNE, the Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC) and the Ceit-IK4, the technology center of the University of Navarra.

The idea is that the patient undergoes a blood prick, since the analysis of the drop should be "sufficient" to detect lung cancer

The project, which has funding from the Basque Government or the Carlos III Health Institute, among other institutions, began in 2013. In this period, the research has received more than one million euros, which has allowed an "important progress" in it. The work developed in these years has demonstrated "the validity of the existing central technology behind the device" and now "we are looking at technology solutions".

The goal is that within five years The device to detect lung cancer instantly is on the market. For this, the promoters are looking for public and private funds to carry out the next phase of the research: the one related to the development of the device for the market. "It's a long and very expensive route," says Lawrie, resigned to all the external factors that come into play.

The three keys

Today there is the technology to detect mutations in the blood but they are "very slow and expensive". Therefore, the project approach is to achieve a device in a format "Bearable, economical and fast" avoiding thermocycles. They are the three keys of the investigation.

For this, the "multidisciplinary" team participating in the project is currently advancing in the initial phase of the development of the prototype. The research will make it possible to diagnose cancer "reliably" and monitor the treatment on the same day as the test. It would be something as simple as a pregnancy test though without self-diagnosis. "It's not for you to do it in your own home," Lawrie explains.

The test could be done in the health center itself, in the ambulatory, since it would not be necessary to resort to a specialized laboratory to know the results. This, as evidenced by the person responsible for the research, "may probably be important for the progress of the disease" in the face of the survival of the person, since the treatment would begin immediately and, in addition, would be adapted to the patient's needs .

By monitoring the reaction of the disease to treatment, it is possible to adopt it in case it is not giving the desired results. "With this we can theoretically prolong life and improve the treatment ", highlights Lawrie, who has a long history in the field of liquid biopsies, in blood biomarkers.

The project has focused on lung cancer due to its aggressiveness -more than 23,000 people they died last year in Spain due to this disease, 82% of them men- and by "the difficulty" involved in tumor biopsies. "It is a cancer with much need to start with this type of technology," says this researcher and CEO of Indicate Solutions, a 'spin off' created to market this type of technology. It has started with lung cancer, but, as Lawrie says, this technology "can be adapted to any other type" of cancer pathology or infectious disease.

In this project, the Ceit-Ik4 works in microfluidic integration in a disposable system that is economical. Health is a "strategic commitment for a long time" of the technological center of the University of Navarra, according to Sergio Arana, director of the Biodevices and MEMS group.

The field of health is, in turn, a future bet for the DIPC, chaired by the Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific Research Pedro Miguel Etxenike, which has three experimental groups in this field, as detailed by the principal investigator Marek Grzelczak. In this research, the center works together with CIC biomaGUNE in "the development of nanomaterials to be sensitive to certain biomarkers or blood molecules."

The idea is to get a cost-effective device to market in five years

"It is a project multidisciplinary and this is one of the forces we have. Different heads for different aspects of the project. This is very important ", highlights the project leader, who is" hopeful "to take a cost-effective device to market within five years. It would successfully conclude more than a decade of research.

At the moment, the "success" of the financing achieved until now in the Indicate project is due to the fact that "it is aligned very well with the strategic line for health that exists in the Basque Country ", according to Grzelczak. "There are many synergies and this is important", emphasizes this researcher that in 2017 he joined the DIPC from CIC biomaGUNE. "The performance of the DICP every time is going to expand to more fields", indicates.

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