Brain tumour takes a huge toll on people’s health and lives every year. Over 3 lakh people are diagnosed with brain cancer globally in a year causing around 2.4 lakh deaths annually. In the paucity of enough tests for the deadly disease, many aggressive tumours that make a comeback go undetected and are not diagnosed before it is too late. Early detection can be a gamechanger for reducing fatalities associated with brain tumour recurrence and a new test is vying to achieve this. (Also read | Brain tumour: Risk factors, symptoms and preventions for brain cancer)
A team at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is working to develop the first finger-prick test to detect brain tumour and if successful, it can help save thousands of lives across the world, said an Independent report. The research is funded by the Medical Research Council and researchers from the University of Sheffield is working on it.
The Independent report added that this new test “could also significantly reduce the burden on healthcare systems by reducing the need for MRI scans and providing a cost-effective alternative to some clinic appointments.”
What are finger-prick devices
Finger-prick devices are those that prick the skin with a needle for collecting a drop of blood for testing. These tests provide a convenient way to check blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
What is a brain tumour
According to American Association of Neurological Surgeons, a brain tumour is an abnormal mass of tissue in which cells grow and multiply controllably. There are two types of brain tumours – primary brain tumour and metastatic brain tumour. The former starts in the brain tissue while the latter can start in any body part but migrate to brain, usually through the bloodstream. There are more than 150 kinds of brain tumours.
As per National Centre for Biotechnology Information, there were 347,992 new cases of brain cancer recorded worldwide in 2019, while the total number of deaths from brain cancer globally was 246,253.
A finger-prick test that can quickly detect brain tumour
“Brain tumours are managed with the best available treatments when first diagnosed but, unfortunately, recurrence is a major problem and some come back very quickly and aggressively,” Philippe Wilson, Professor of One Health NTU was quoted by Independent as saying.
“If you have an MRI six months after treatment, by that point a tumour could have been back for a significant amount of time potentially,” he added.
“It’s hard to imagine a medical technology so widely used and understood as the lateral flow test. This tech would provide regular, affordable disease monitoring for patients at home in an easy-to-use way. We hope the work could be applied to other types of cancer too, potentially helping to save millions of lives worldwide,” said Wilson.
The Independent report states that the researchers are focussing on developing lateral flow tests that can detect molecules in the blood which are specific to a tumour and would give a very early indication of it returning. Prototypes are being worked on as part of the project before the study moves on to clinical trials, adds the report. Using this technology, aggressive and malignant forms of brain tumour can be detected.