New-era test to check for bladder cancer

Clinical trials of a new technique to manage and tackle the high recurrence in bladder cancer will commence at Flinders under an industry-university collaboration underway in South Australia. 

Development of technology to potentially replace expensive and invasive cystoscopy testing in diagnosis and surveillance of bladder cancer is progressing after an announcement of $2.43 million in federal Cooperative Research Centre Program funding for the SA-based project. 

The project, led by UniSA surface and material engineers Professor Krasi Vasilev and Dr Melanie Macgregor-Ramiasa and Lonsdale-based commercialisation partner SMR Technologies, focuses on a novel sensor to accurately detect bladder cancer cells in urine.  

Under the research project, Flinders University and SA Health physicians and urologists at Flinders Medical Centre – Professor Jonathan Gleadle, Dr Jordan Li and Dr Michael Chong – will start clinical trials of the new technique which could make urine testing to detect bladder cancer cells common practice among sufferers. 

Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers in Australia, causing the deaths of more than 1000 Australians every year. 

“Our preliminary work showed promise but it will take a lot more work to replace the current gold standard process, which is the invasive use of endoscopes inside the bladder,” says Professor Gleadle, the recently appointed Head of Medicine at Flinders University. 

“Due to the high recurrence rate and frequent patient surveillance required, bladder cancer can be a difficult disease for patients and a major economic burden to the Australian and world-wide health systems.” 

The Flinders research team will recruit patients with bladder cancer for the clinical study to determine the effectiveness of the new device in detecting bladder cancer cells in urine.

A research paper describing the technology “A Platform for Selective Immuno-capture of Cancer Cells from Urine” has just been accepted for publication in Biosensors and Bioelectronics

SMR Technologies, an independent division of SMR Automotive Australia Pty Ltd, focuses on the design, manufacture and distribution of high-quality products for a broad range of industries including medical devices, cleantech and whitegoods.

With this project, SMR is investing in developing point-of-care biosensors, using platform technologies of nano-structured coatings, biology and micro-optics. The estimated $9.2 million project will produce a new, low-cost diagnostic device for non-invasive early detection of urothelial cancers. 

Other partners are the Maddern and Catt Unit Trust and Trustee for the Pro Health Care Hope Valley Unit Trust. 


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