‘Groundbreaking’ cancer research that could improve detection rates begins in Stevenage hospital

Lead author of the study Mr Nikhil Vasdev, medical director Dr Michael Chilvers and head of cellular pathology Dr Samita...

Lead author of the study Mr Nikhil Vasdev, medical director Dr Michael Chilvers and head of cellular pathology Dr Samita Agarwal in the Lister Hospital laboratory where the URO17 test results were analysed. Picture: East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust - Credit: Archant

A pioneering study into bladder cancer that could lead to improved detection rates in the future has been successfully carried out by Stevenage’s Lister Hospital.

Described by the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust as a “groundbreaking study”, the new bladder cancer test could improve detection rates of the disease in the future, and result in less invasive investigatory procedures for patients in the UK and beyond.

The research, which is the first of its kind in Europe, was carried out on 71 consenting patients at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital, with a 100 per cent accuracy rate for detecting bladder cancer in urine samples where blood was present.

Currently many patients suspected of having bladder cancer have to undergo invasive procedures before diagnosis can be confirmed, but the simplicity of this new test could mean that future patients can be screened without needing to go to hospital for a procedure.

The URO17 test – which uses a novel biomarker, a biological molecule found in the body which can be used to detect diseases – was developed by California-based firm KDx Diagnostics Inc and used by Lister Hospital’s cellular pathology team for the study.

Lister-based urological surgeon and associate medical director for cancer services at the Trust, Nikhil Vasdev, was the chief investigator and the lead author of the study, which has been published by the British Journal of Urology International.

Mr Vasdev said: “We are pleased to be the first group in Europe to report on the high accuracy of this test in detecting the presence of bladder cancer in patients who have not been previously diagnosed with the disease.

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“Our ability to identify bladder cancer simply, accurately, and non-invasively using URO17 will greatly improve detection at an early stage when it can be treated most effectively.”

Around 10,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer in the UK each year, with Dr Michael Chilvers – the trust’s medical director – believing the test “shows real promise in improving bladder cancer patient care both here and abroad”.

Dr Chilvers, a co-author of the study, added: “I am extremely proud of our urology department being at the forefront of this groundbreaking study in Europe.”

Sholeh Jahanfard, president and chief operating officer of KDx, said: “We are delighted with the success of our collaboration with Mr Vasdev on this important study and, with our recent CE marking for the URO17-IVD test, we are excited to bring this important test to patients in the UK and the rest of Europe.”

It is hoped the study can now be replicated on a national scale before steps can be taken to roll out the test here – having first been used as a laboratory-developed test in the US in July 2019.