New blood test can detect debilitating female disease in almost all cases

2 Apr 2019

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A biotech company says it has created the first blood test for endometriosis that can detect it in 90pc of cases.

UK-based company MDNA Life Sciences has claimed it will soon change the lives of millions of women worldwide with the introduction of a new blood test for endometriosis, a debilitating and painful condition for women where tissue – similar to the lining of the womb – starts to grow in other parts of the body, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

In the UK alone, it is estimated that as many as 1.5m women are affected by the condition, with more than 175m affected worldwide. Unfortunately, due to the broad symptoms associated with endometriosis such as period pain, heavy periods and lower stomach pain, an accurate diagnosis can take on average 7.5 years.

Future Human

Now, this new blood test can reportedly detect the disease in 90pc of cases, with results available in a matter of days, allowing doctors to start making decisions quickly on diagnosis and treatment.

The technology behind the test was due to MDNA’s development of techniques that exploit unique characteristics of mutations of mitochondrial DNA, which can act as biomarkers for the presence of a range of diseases. Results of the study that led to the breakthrough have now been published to Biomarkers in Medicine.

The company now plans on creating a test kit to enable labs worldwide to carry out the tests on a commercial basis, with it expected to complete regulatory approval within the next nine to 10 months.

As well as the new test for endometriosis, MDNA is planning to release tests for ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer next year with tests for lung, liver and stomach cancers to follow in 2021.

Speaking of the disease, Dr Christian Becker of the Endometriosis Care Centre in Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford said: “Endometriosis not only causes enormous suffering to the affected women, but also brings a tremendous medical and economic burden to bear on society.

“There is a long lag phase between the onset and diagnosis of the disease, mainly due to its non-specific symptoms and because it can only be diagnosed invasively by laparoscopy. A specific, non-invasive test to aid diagnosis of endometriosis is certainly an unmet clinical need.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic