Aussie scientists develop test that could reduce bowel cancer deaths
Responsible for over half a million deaths worldwide ever year, bowel cancer is one of the more common cancers found in people over 50, but a new test could help reduce its numbers.
The new test is a more accurate blood test, and has been worked on by several organisations, coming together to produce something which could see bowel test results found out earlier, helping to prevent the cancer from reaching critical levels that would lead to late treatment.
Developed by the CSIRO in collaboration with Flinders University and the Australian-founded biotechnology organisation Clinical Genomics, it’s called “Colvera” and works by measuring small pieces of genetic material called “circulating tumour DNA” (ctDNA) that emerge from a tumour and make their way into the blood stream.
Almost 15,000 new cases of bowel cancer (also called colorectoal cancer) are diagnosed each year in Australia, but those numbers could diminish with the Colvera.
Different from the present method of using a blood test to look for carcinoembryonic antigens (CEA) and running CT scans, Colvera won’t do anything to prevent the cancer from forming, though the earlier warning could result in better prevention methods and timings.
“By providing clinicians with a new blood test that is more sensitive for recurrence than CEA, Colvera increases the likelihood of detecting curable recurrences of CRC [colorectoal cancer], with the ultimate aim of saving lives,” said Dr Trevor Lockett, Scientist at the CSIRO.
“It’s a real success story of science partnering with industry to create impact, and has provided an excellent learning opportunity for researchers to see science being applied with a business and intense product focus,” he said.
But while the method and test was developed in Australia, locals intending to take the test at their local hospital will have to wait, with the US getting the test first, available at the Clinical Genomics Bridgewater New Jersey lab first, with a view to seeing release and use in Australia some time this year.