Pancreatic cancer test to offer life-saving early diagnosis

An innovative Swedish SME will soon launch a life-saving test for one of the most lethal and hard-to-detect forms of cancer. Clinically validated in an EU-funded project, the test could revolutionise the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, providing early detection with unprecedented accuracy, boosting patient survival rates and enabling widespread screening of high-risk groups.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 21 November 2019  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesMajor diseases  |  Medical research
Information societyInformation technology
Innovation
Research policyHorizon 2020
SMEs
Special CollectionsCancer
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Sweden
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Pancreatic cancer test to offer life-saving early diagnosis

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© immunovia

Updated on 21 November 2019

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death from cancer in Europe, claiming more than 90 000 lives each year. Rarely diagnosed early due to the lack of effective screening techniques, it has the lowest survival rate of all cancers: patients’ chances of living for more than five years after initial diagnosis are only around 7 %.

However, that could soon change with the planned commercial launch of IMMray™ PanCan-d, a novel blood test developed by Swedish healthcare firm Immunovia. Using one of the world’s most advanced recombinant antibody microarray platforms, the test detects the unique signature of biomarkers that reveals the imprint of pancreatic cancer on the immune system.

Clinical trials conducted in the EU-funded IMMPACT project have shown the test is capable of detecting the most common form of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), with an accuracy of more than 90 %.

‘Our optimisation study showed for the first time that IMMray™ PanCan-d could differentiate PDAC patients in stages I to IV from non-PDAC patients with non-specific but concerning symptoms with accuracies ranging from 90 % to 98 %,’ says Laura Chirica, Immunovia’s chief commercial officer.

Significant boost in survival rates

Early diagnosis is crucial to saving patients’ lives. Studies suggest that reliable detection during stage I or II – while PDAC tumours are still confined to the pancreas and are removable by surgery – could boost five-year survival rates to as high as 50 %.

‘Today, pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed far too late when it is no longer resectable [able to be removed] by surgical procedures,’ Chirica says.

She points to data from Sweden’s cancer registry showing that for diseases like breast cancer or colorectal cancer, for which screening is common, the number of diagnosed patients is much higher than the number of deceased patients. For pancreatic cancer, the number of deceased surpasses the number of diagnosed because patients pass away before the cancer is even detected.

Despite the expected roll-out of faster and more efficient testing using the IMMray™ PanCan-d, widespread screening of the entire population for pancreatic cancer would not be socio-economically justifiable. Thus, Immunovia’s ongoing prospective studies are designed to validate the technology among three high-risk groups who have a greater need for routine screening. These groups will be among the first to benefit from the commercial launch of the test: people with a family history of pancreatic cancer; new-onset diabetics over 50 years of age; and patients with symptoms indicative of the disease.

Milestone studies

‘Studies involving more than 10 000 individuals are currently running at 27 hospitals in the USA, Sweden, Canada, the UK and Spain. These studies are designed to provide data and results that will drive adoption by healthcare providers and encourage widespread availability of the test for all high-risk groups of patients,’ Chirica explains. ‘Each step in the validation process is a major milestone bringing us closer to gaining regulatory approval for IMMray™ PanCan-d and offering the test commercially.’

Immunovia plans to begin commercial sales of one type of the test in the USA in the third quarter of 2020 at its own laboratory in Marlborough, Massachusetts. It is also seeking European regulatory approval to make IMMray™ PanCan-d available via Immunovia’s Laboratory Services in Lund, Sweden, focusing commercialisation initially on the countries involved in the prospective studies.

In parallel, Immunovia is exploring using the technology for diagnosing lung cancer, the leading cause of death from cancer in Europe. Preliminary studies show a similar blood test, based on the IMMray™ platform, could differentiate lung-cancer samples from healthy control samples with an accuracy of 95 %.

Project details

  • Project acronym: IMMPACT
  • Participants: Sweden (Coordinator)
  • Project N°: 672454
  • Total costs: € 4 244 969
  • EU contribution: € 4 244 969
  • Duration: June 2015 to May 2018

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