Cancer accounts for nearly one-quarter of deaths in the developed world, exceeded only by heart diseases. One of the key strategies in cancer prevention is early diagnosis through cancer screening programs. Estimates of the premature deaths that could have been avoided through cancer screening vary from 3% to 35%, depending on a variety of assumptions. Beyond the potential to reduce mortality, screening may reduce cancer morbidity since treatment for earlier-stage cancers is often less aggressive than that for more advanced-stage cancers. Currently many of these screening programs, have issues with false negative results, long time delays to obtaining the results, which increase patient anxiety and delays in starting treatments. In this project we will develop a novel rapid real time PCR/probe technology, in a microarray biochip format with the corresponding automated instrumentation for use as a rapid “point of care” diagnostic device. Cervical cancer and its associated virus, human papilloma virus is the model system which will be used to develop this novel automated cancer screening technology. The novel real time PCR technology will permit detection of panels of multiple biomarkers in a single PCR reaction. The partners have already developed prototype technology which partly demonstrates a microarray approach to real time PCR. The project will build on this, providing the innovation needed to transform a promising technology to an integrated system suitable for practical use at point-of-care setting. The consortium includes four research institutes and two SMEs, who have extensive experience with real time PCR and microarray technologies, and are motivated to commercialise results. In addition partners 7 will act as end user, validating the system in a clinical setting.
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