In the UK, it is reported that nearly 130 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every day. An early diagnosis will give a 57 per cent chance of survival for more than five years as compared to diagnosing at a later stage, wherein the survival rate is a meagre 3 per cent. This is where Oxcan (Oxford Cancer Analytics) comes to play as it strives to identify more cases in the early stage.
Raises oversubscribed funding round
In a recent development, Oxford Cancer Analytics raised £1.27 million in an oversubscribed seed round. The investment will be used for the company’s new innovation to detect lung cancer earlier. The round is backed by a slew of leading international investors, including Cancer Research UK, Civilisation Ventures, the Francis Crick Institute, Oxford Technology Management, and MegaRobo.
Joining this international group of backers are business angels such as the Chief Digital Officer of T-Mobile USA, Marcus East, and the former European President of GlaxoSmithKline, Brad Wilson. The early-stage investors clearly recognise the power, promise, and potential of the company’s vision.
Revolutionises cancer management
OXcan is the brainchild of two educated scientists from Oxford, Dr. Peter Jianrui Liu and Andreas Halner, who want “to shape a future in which early cancer detection becomes the norm rather than the exception”. The company applies machine learning techniques to anonymised patient data sets in order to flag risk levels, and combine this with cutting-edge liquid biopsy techniques, searching for biomarkers indicative of stage one lung cancer. CEO Liu said that in this way they can “revolutionise cancer management”, whereas “current approaches are only scratching the surface of what’s possible”.
Preliminary results suggest he’s right: OXcan has just doubled early-stage lung cancer detection rates to 90% with their machine learning approach by analysing publicly published data in the top journal Science.
OXcan is building a future in which patients will no longer have to wait for an anxiety-inducing series of X-Rays, CT Scans, and Bronchoscopies, which involves passing a tube down your throat and into your airways in order to scrape off cells for analysis. If lung cancer is diagnosed earlier with OXcan’s painless screening technology, then fewer patients will have to face agonising rounds of ultimately unsuccessful treatment.
OXcan can help post-diagnosis too: advisor Dr. Nicholas Coupe, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, says that the technology has “the potential to monitor responses to treatment” in a far less invasive manner. The benefits for medical professionals should be clear: reductions in cost from earlier intervention, rapid feedback about treatment efficacy, and improvements in what matters most: patient comfort and health.