New technique could cut diagnosis time to 30 minutes

Fri 7 March 2014

Most people spend 30 minutes a day commuting to and from work or checking their emails but scientists at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have discovered it only takes half an hour to diagnose brain cancer.

The new research, developed by Dr Matthew Baker and Mr Peter Abel, is based on using a non-invasive technique to diagnose a particular type of brain cancer called gliomas by analysing patients’ blood samples using a combination of infrared lighting and protein biomarkers.

This method would transform the diagnosis of patients with brain tumours who currently have to wait two to three days in hospital while invasive and uncomfortable tests are carried out on them before they get their results.

More than 16,000 people globally each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour. In the UK, more children and adults under 40 die of a brain tumour than from any other cancer – but despite this, brain tumours receive less than 1% of the national spend on cancer research.

Dr Baker said: “This type of research provides a non-invasive solution to detecting the early stages of brain cancer whilst supporting medical decision making and helping healthcare professionals to improve patient outcomes. The result we have achieved is a milestone and has the ability to revolutionise the clinical environment by providing objective measures for diagnoses, enabling increased efficiency and economic impact upon the health services. We hope this will also help to relieve some of the emotional stress patience experience waiting for test results.”

Mr Abel added: “This new test could expand cancer diagnostics globally, allowing the possibility of screening for brain cancer to diagnose at a much earlier stage and detecting for recurrent tumours. We believe that in time, this technique could be carried out by a doctor as part of a regular health screening, helping to increase survival rates whilst relieving the healthcare resource crisis.”

Source: The Guardian (accessed: 07/03/14)