Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH) entails a broad scope of disciplines, from pharmaceuticals to medical technology and from healthcare infrastructure to vaccination. To realise its mission – vital citizens in a healthy economy - the Top Sector builds on the strengths of the Dutch LSH sector to address the biggest societal challenges in prevention, cure and care. By funding multidisciplinary public private partnerships (PPPs) the Top Sector aims to facilitate innovation. Here we give an overview of funded R&D projects by Top Sector LSH.

Development of a better molecular test for colorectal cancer screening

Development of a molecular test for colorectal cancer screening based on already validated proteins

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common malignant tumors worldwide. Many patients do not survive the disease. The majority of these cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, in which only a minority of the patients can be cured. Early diagnosis is therefore live saving. The current test, which is used in the Dutch screening programme, detects small traces of non-visible blood that can indicate the presence of colorectal cancer. While this test can significantly reduce disease-specific mortality, it has limited sensitivity. Therefore improvement of the sensitivity of the screening tests is highly needed.

Together with Exact Sciences and the Dutch Digestive Foundation, the NKI develops a straightforward solution to improve the current test by using tumor-specific protein biomarkers. By application of an advanced technique we discovered several tumor and tumor stroma related proteins in stool that can discriminate colorectal cancer patients from healthy controls.

In recent studies a panel of most promising biomarkers was selected and further validation and development of a new test based on this panel could add sensitivity and specificity to the current test, to make colorectal cancer screening even more effective. We expect that our new biomarker test will be 20% more sensitive than the current one and in the long term that translates into 573 lives extra that will be saved yearly.