Diagnostic device could lead to improved cancer testing

A Singapore company’s second-generation diagnostic device could lead to improved cancer testing and research.

Clearbridge BioMedics’ ClearCell System reportedly enables tumour cells to be retrieved and detected more quickly — and potentially more accurately — from a blood sample.

According to a statement, the development could pave the way for a new generation of personalised cancer treatments and increase the chance of saving lives.

The spread of cancer around the body is the major cause of death from cancer but the traditional diagnosis method of a tumour biopsy often involves invasive surgery and cannot easily detect whether the disease has spread.

Clearbridge BioMedics’ proprietary second-generation ClearCell System is a new low-cost non-invasive ‘liquid biopsy’ designed to provide an early warning of the spread of the disease.

Cambridge Consultants assisted with the development of the device, providing diagnostic device expertise in fields including microfluidics and automation control.

The new system is said to detect circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the bloodstream that have detached from a patient’s primary tumour and can do this at concentrations of one in a billion blood cells.

Early detection of these CTCs can increase patients’ chances of survival, and tracking the cell count over time could help ensure treatment is more effective.

The new testing device has also solved the technical challenge of retrieving the cells intact, offering an insight into the exact nature of the cancer and its unique characteristics, paving the way for a new generation of personalised cancer treatments to fit the needs of each patient’s unique tumour biology.

Clearbridge BioMedics is a spin-off from the National University of Singapore and the first member of the Clearbridge Accelerator technology incubator, which is supported by the Singapore government’s National Research Foundation and SPRING Singapore.

Johnson Chen, managing partner of Clearbridge Accelerator, said: ‘It [ClearCell] potentially represents the next generation of cancer screening, diagnosis, personalised medicine and treatment monitoring.’