Irish team develops €25 bowel cancer blood test kit

5 Feb 2015

An Irish team is attempting to simplify and bring down the cost of bowel cancer scans dramatically by developing a new non-invasive blood test that costs just €25.

The project was a joint-collaboration between the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at Dublin City University (DCU) and Irish biotech firm, Randox and if successful, could help as many as 2,500 people in Ireland per year who are found to have bowel cancer.

The blood test is designed to pick up on antibodies in the blood produced as the body reacts to the onset of bowel cancer which is one of the very specific biomarkers allowing for a test which is more sensitive and accurate than existing screening.

Aside from being a much simpler procedure, this new, cheap method would be considered a major improvement on the current method of invasive bowel screening which has been shown to be not completely reliable of detecting on-set bowel cancer and because of its nature, has not shown a strong uptake by people.

Available by the end of the year

That is why it is hoped the non-invasive blood-test will encourage more people to come forward to seek the test.

The new test will be implemented on Randox’s proprietary Biochip Array Technology detection platform and is expected to be available for widespread use by the end of 2015.

Speaking of the breakthrough, Randox’s managing director, Dr Peter FitzGerald said, “The potential here is quite revolutionary – while bowel cancer is a very serious illness, early diagnosis leads to improved survival. If bowel cancer is found early, the growth is typically small and can be removed, leaving the person healthy and needing less treatment.

“In addition, bowel cancer places considerable burden on our healthcare system.  Stage 3 bowel cancer treatment costs are estimated at more than €45,000 per patient, with Stage 1 treatment €18,550 – less than half. If we can catch this cancer early and treat it early, then the economic benefit will be considerable.”

Blood test image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic