A test that could detect the early onset of lung cancer is currently in development. The blood-based test, which has been attracting global attention, utilises proprietary technology, which enables it to detect microRNA biomarkers at the early stages of lung cancer. It is hoped the test could help to reduce the number of patients who are diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease.
Dr Na Yu (Cherry) Chia, founder and CEO of medtech start-up, ErleaDx said: “This test is a game-changer for the millions of people around the world who hear the devastating words ‘you may have lung cancer’ every year. The current test for lung cancer is expensive, not 100 per cent accurate and involves invasive procedures. Our vision at ErleaDx is to make picking up lung cancer, in its early stages, as easy as a finger prick test at home.”
Currently, more than 75 per cent of lung cancer patients in the UK are diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease and there has been a significant increase since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Health experts are estimating that there will be in excess of 1,300 extra deaths from lung cancer five years after diagnosis as a result of COVID-19.
Dr Chia, who is currently working on product development and clinical recruitment for the Mirlung Dx lung cancer detector, hopes to have a prototype available by 2023.
The project has gained support across the global scientific community and won the Venture Further Business Start-up Competition in the health category earlier this year, in addition to the UK Wellcome Trust Grant, which supports pilot clinical studies in Manchester, and the A*STAR GAP $100,000 grant from the Singapore government.