Nottingham-based Tumour Trace has developed the OMIS cancer detection system.
OMIS stands for Opto-magnetic Imaging Spectroscopy and it was the brainchild of Professor Djuro Koruga, the company’s chief scientific officer.
It is the physical embodiment of his research at the University of Belgrade and, put simply, the device detects the minute electromagnetic changes that occur in tissue as cancer emerges and develops.
A sample can be garnered using minimally invasive techniques and read-outs emerge in ‘near’ real-time (less than 30 seconds), while the technology itself is “cancer agnostic”. That said, it is currently CE marked as a screening tool for cervical cancer.
Be aware there is a difference between a screening device and a diagnostic.
Screening is a pre-emptive process that sees tens of thousands of people annually assessed for the early signs of breast, cervical and prostate cancers.
It saves many lives but it isn’t an exact science, with around a 60% strike rate. In other words, there are a lot of false positives.
OMIS is a far more reliable predictor. Its sensitivity is 84% and its specificity is 77%. That puts it right at the top end for screening.
However, for it to be a proper diagnostic tool it needs to rival the gold standard in this arena – biopsy. So, the aim is to refine OMIS to the point where it provides the correct diagnosis around 97% of the time.
Clinical trials of the technology are set to take place in Germany, Austria and the UK, alongside retrospective analysis.
OMIS may struggle (initially at least) to supplant the current techniques used in the developed world, which is why the early adopters are likely to be in the emerging countries where screening is non-existent.