A groundbreaking at home finger-prick blood test to measure patient cancer remission and reoccurrence could revolutionise cancer monitoring.
The Victorian Cancer Biobank (VCB), which collects tissue, blood and data for cancer research and clinical trials in Victoria, hopes that this new technology may one day allow us to manage cancer reoccurrence as easily as monitoring blood sugar levels for diabetic patients.
“It is estimated that 78 million people globally are currently in cancer remission, and the Cancer Biomarker biosensor test could potentially revolutionise cancer monitoring which is currently only available through a clinic or hospital-based imaging and blood tests,” Victorian Cancer Biobank General Manager Wayne Ng said.
Dr Ng hopes the handheld portable cancer biosensor test will allow patients to perform a vital test at home.
“This will be a game changer for cancer monitoring which is currently only available through clinic or hospital-based imaging and blood tests,” Dr Ng added.
Universal Biosensors (UB), a Victorian-based company, has obtained bio specimens from VCB for their international development clinical study into the biosensor test.
UB‘s Head of Research and Development, Mr Luke Cossins, said VCB’s clinical samples allowed them to confirm their biosensor worked, although further development was needed.
“We are working towards improving the sensitivity and specificity through lectin engineering and collaborating with experts in this space. We look forward to engaging with VCB for future access to clinical samples,” Mr Cossins added.
Dr Ng said the VCB has significantly contributed specimens to about a third of the cohort of this initial study and is expecting to contribute more towards the further development of the test.
The initial feasibility testing conducted using VCB samples has assessed the performance of the test in a cohort of 130 patients across multiple cancer types, including colorectal, prostate and breast.
Established in 2006, the VCB is a consortium between Cancer Council Victoria and five major health precincts in Melbourne – Austin Health, Eastern Health, Melbourne Health, Monash Health, and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute – continues to play a crucial role in biomedical research through the ethical collection and provision of human bio specimens.
In 2023, the VCB has reached recruitment of almost 40,000 donors, thanks to Victorian Government support which has enabled 60 research projects to be serviced in Victoria (82%) and worldwide.
The VCB has also fuelled the growth of cancer research both locally and globally, putting Victoria at the forefront of research advancements with researchers supported by the VCB securing $3.6 million in grants.
This consortium provides a coordinated and integrated program that collects and distributes tissue samples to support cancer research in Victoria, Australia and throughout the world to deliver better clinical outcomes to people with cancer.
With almost 40,000 Victorians undergoing cancer and other surgery who have donated blood and surplus tissue, the Biobank is able to support more than 300 research projects located within Australia and overseas where biospecimens and the clinical information are vital for their research.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper AM said the VCB has been an instrumental force in driving cancer research forward and through its robust infrastructure the VCB accelerates the translation of research into improved cancer outcomes.
“The Victorian Cancer Biobank is one of the largest open access cancer biobanks in Australia collecting tissue and blood from donors at 26 public and private hospitals across metropolitan Melbourne,” Mr Harper.
“Thanks to the patients and scientists who contribute to this biobank, we have an invaluable resource that is driving great advances for cancer patients.”
Victorian Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas said the Victorian Cancer Biobank has cemented itself as a global leader in medical research and we’re proud to support their pioneering work.
“It’s innovations like these that demonstrate why government investment in medical research is so critically important,” Ms Thomas said.
The VCB envisions exciting opportunities for expansion, including national collaboration on biobanking under National Research Infrastructure (NRI) Roadmap and international collaboration with Singapore Translational Cancer Consortium.
Additionally, the VCB has identified opportunities for high-demand molecular profiling services and data sharing for specimen-generated data from research.
“Though challenges exist, including raising public awareness, dispelling misconceptions of biobanking costs among researchers and addressing limitations in existing data capabilities and the consortium model, VCB remains steadfast in its mission to make a lasting impact on cancer research and improve cancer outcomes,” Dr Ng added.
With more than 450,000 biospecimens, the VCB has supported more than 300 research projects since its inception and plans to continue to facilitate scientific research.
“The VCB plays a critical role in supporting life-saving cancer research and clinical trials in Victoria to speed up improved outcomes for all people with cancer,” Mr Harper concluded.
If you are interested in donating tissue to the Victorian Cancer Biobank or would like to learn more, please visit: viccancerbiobank.org.au
About the Victorian Cancer Biobank
The Victorian Cancer Biobank is a consortium through long-term partnerships between Cancer Council Victoria as the lead agency, and five major health precincts in Melbourne – Austin Health, Eastern Health, Melbourne Health, Monash Health, and Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute.
About Cancer Council Victoria
Cancer Council Victoria is the only charity that works across every area of every cancer, from research to prevention and support.
We help people to reduce their risk of getting cancer, once diagnosed with cancer through to their treatment and beyond. Together, it’s all of us against cancer.
Find out more at cancervic.org.au
AUTHOR: RYAN FRITZ