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Blood Test Uses Infrared Light to Detect Brain Cancer

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 23 Oct 2023
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Image: The Dxcover platform detects the presence or absence of disease in minutes (Photo courtesy of Dxcover)
Image: The Dxcover platform detects the presence or absence of disease in minutes (Photo courtesy of Dxcover)

Every year, more than 86,000 new brain cancer cases are identified globally, and these tend to be more costly to treat initially than other types of cancer. The average life span is cut short by about 20 years due to brain tumors. An early diagnosis greatly improves the chances of successful treatment and a better quality of life. However, in primary healthcare settings, diagnosing brain cancer is extremely challenging. Most patients exhibit symptoms that are vague and usually not immediately life-threatening, making it tough to determine who needs further, expensive testing like brain scans. Now, an innovative liquid biopsy using spectroscopy offers a quick, affordable, and accurate method for doctors to test for brain cancer, cutting down on delays for additional tests and treatments.

Dxcover’s (Glasgow, UK) brain cancer blood test utilizes infrared light on blood samples to assess whether a patient is likely to have cancer. This approach is grounded in research showing that the interplay between the light and molecules in the blood can generate a biological signal. This signal is then analyzed using machine learning to ascertain if the patient has cancer. In the test, a tiny amount of blood serum is dried onto a specialized Dxcover Slide and then examined using infrared light. All critical data, including how the body is responding to potential illness, is recorded. An AI algorithm quickly processes this information, even offering insight into the type and intensity of the tumor, helping healthcare providers to prioritize treatment plans more effectively.

In a 2021 study, the test successfully identified glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive form of brain tumor, with 91% sensitivity and 80% specificity. Overall, the test had an 81% sensitivity rate for all kinds of brain tumors. Dxcover is continually fine-tuning the test's accuracy for various applications. The highly sensitive nature of the test enables doctors to efficiently triage patients and rule out cancer as a cause for their symptoms. Dxcover plans to introduce its blood test in Europe to aid in the assessment of patients showing symptoms of cancer. The company expects to finalize clinical trials and secure a CE Mark for the test’s commercial release in the European Union by 2025. Meanwhile, in the United States, the test's high specificity could prove instrumental in detecting brain cancer at an earlier stage, according to the company.

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