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Affordable POC Tests to Improve Early Cancer Detection in Low-Resource Settings

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 31 Oct 2023
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Image: The new research center will develop affordable global health technologies for early cancer detection (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: The new research center will develop affordable global health technologies for early cancer detection (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Cancer ranks as the first or second leading cause of early death in 134 out of 183 countries. Forecasts suggest that the global rate of cancer cases will surge by 50% between 2018 and 2040. This increase is expected to be more pronounced in countries with fewer resources and inadequate healthcare infrastructure to manage cancer effectively. While early detection and proper treatment can cure most types of cancer, existing diagnostic tests are often too complex or costly to be used in basic healthcare settings, especially in areas with limited medical services. Now, new point-of-care (POC) technologies for early cancer detection aim to bring healthcare services closer to the patient, making treatment timelier and more accessible, which could enhance outcomes in the long run.

Rice University (Houston, TX, USA) is leading a multinational collaboration, involving engineers, cancer specialists, and global health experts from three different continents. The research group has received a grant for up to five years from the National Institutes of Health to set up a leading research facility within the Texas Medical Center. The focus will be on creating cost-effective POC technologies for early cancer detection in both the United States and other nations lacking sufficient healthcare infrastructure. Named the Center for Innovation and Translation of POC Technologies for Equitable Cancer Care (CITEC), the center will operate under the umbrella of the Rice360 Institute for Global Health Technologies. Funded initially by a USD 1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), the center could receive up to USD 6.5 million over the next five years. CITEC will primarily focus on the development of POC diagnostics for oral, cervical, and gastrointestinal cancers.

“CITEC will identify needed technologies, accelerate their development, evaluate their performance and impact in diverse settings and train local users and technology developers to create and disseminate more equitable POC technologies,” said Sharmila Anandasabapathy is vice president of global health at Baylor College of Medicine.

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