SCIENTISTS in the region who are pioneering a new test for prostate cancer expect to bring the technology to the market within 18 months after winning their latest funding boost and attracting interest from North America.
Next week, Durham University spin-out FScan will start the first clinical tests of its groundbreaking technology which could revolutionise the diagnosis of the most common form of cancer among British men.
The team, led by Prof David Parker, will test the accuracy of its application on prostate cancer sufferers.
The disease kills around 10,000 men every year in the UK where, on average, there are 35,000 new cases diagnosed annually.
In simple terms, the complex system shines a light through a fluid sample from the prostate gland to identify the concentration of citrate – a sign of the presence of the disease.
It has been designed to detect the disease faster and at an earlier stage than conventional methods and is also being developed to be more accurate by eliminating other diseases which can show similar symptoms.
The company, which expects to be commercially active within 18 months, has been buoyed by the news of a £78,000 grant from regional development agency One North East to fund ongoing research.
FScan CEO Kishor Mistry said the science behind its prostate cancer test could have further, long-term implications in the food production and pharmaceutical industry.
He said it could also be adapted for the diagnosis of gout, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and arthritis.
“In the States they are interested in what we are doing. We have gone into early discussions with one company.
“There are other applications as well which are just waiting in the wings which could be used in sports medicine, the veterinary industry, the food industry and in developing cleaning products.” In the States there is a huge potential market for FScan’s technology as 24 million PSA tests for prostate cancer are carried out every year.
FScan’s latest funding boost follows £100,000 in investment it received earlier this year from the Three Pillars Fund, which was set up to back early stage enterprises in the energy, health and process industries.
FScan won the Science and Technology category at this year’s Regional Blueprint Business Awards and, last week, was recognised at the Business for Life Awards in the Newcastle Science City-sponsored innovation category.