Tuesday, July 5th, 2022 - Perth, Australia: Biotome has been awarded $497,000 in funding from the Western Australian Future Health Research & Innovation Fund, to develop their precision diagnostic for stomach cancer risk. This test will be the world’s first diagnostic for stomach cancer risk with high enough accuracy and a low enough cost to be used for public health screening. It has the potential to save thousands of lives in Australia, and millions around the world.
Biotome’s research has discovered biological markers that accurately identify antibodies to “CagA positive” Helicobacter pylori infections. These infections are believed to be the leading cause of non-cardia gastric cancer. After proving the value of the markers in the lab, Biotome is developing their research into a simple, inexpensive test.
“It's exciting to have the support of the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund. This funding secures our path to developing our Helitope diagnostic and significantly de-risks commercialisation. I believe this funding initiative will significantly boost the growth of the local Biotech/MedTech sector and provide significant value to all Western Australians.” Prof. Samuel Lundin, Biotome Founder and CEO
Over the next ten years, twenty-thousand Australians will be diagnosed with stomach cancer. Despite treatment, more than half of those patients will die less than two years later. A comprehensive program to test and treat infections of CagA+ strains of H. pylori bacteria could prevent over 700 Australian deaths from gastric cancer each year.
“We face the same challenge as many early-stage Australian biotech companies: how can we get our research into the hands of doctors and start saving lives? The WA FHRI grant helps make this a reality by supporting the development of our prototype test.” -Luke Marshall, Biotome Head of Data Science
Gastric cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the world, killing approximately 768,000 people in 2020. H. pylori infection is widespread outside Australia, especially in southern Europe, South America and East Asia.
Because most H. pylori infections do not cause symptoms, they remain undetected. In these cases, the carcinogenic strains can irritate the stomach lining for years, potentially leading to dysplasia and gastric cancer.
By using a test to screen for carcinogenic H. pylori infections, doctors can treat patients before dangerous pre-cancerous changes develop. Treatment of the infection is reliable, inexpensive, and readily available. Within five years after being successfully treated, a patient’s risk of developing stomach cancer returns to their normal level.