Finnish colon cancer prevention innovation heading to markets

Finnish invention will help detect cases of hereditary cancer predisposition before the person affected gets ill.

Researchers at Helsinki University have developed a method which will help prevent an increasing number of colon cancers. The invention is well on its way to the market, boosted by a grant of 150.000€ for the production of the invention awarded to the researchers by the European Research Council.

Lynch syndrome, a hereditary predisposition to bowel cancer, is responsible for 5–15 per cent of all colon cancers. The researchers’ objective is to introduce to the market a test that allows for more comprehensive detection of the predisposition.

Two thirds of Lynch syndrome families have been detected with previous tests. The Finnish invention draws on the underlying condition that predisposes a person to cancer, but in a new way, thanks to which basically all Lynch syndrome families can be detected. The test detects hereditary cancer predisposition before the onset of the disease.

The patenting process of the invention leading to a DiagMMR essay, developed by the research laboratory of Professor Minna Nyström, was launched a couple of years ago. Now the researchers are looking for a partner to bring the product to the market.

Global market

According to Helsinki University, the prevalence of Lynch syndrome is 1:1 000—2 000. Up to 80 per cent of the carriers of Lynch syndrome develop colon cancer.

— Considering how common the syndrome is – the number of carriers in Europe alone is estimated at over three million – and how high the risk of falling ill is for the carriers, it may be feasible both ethically and economically to screen the carriers in appropriate target groups. A global market exists for the test, says Professor Päivi Peltomäki, Principal Investigator, funded by the European Research Council.

Colon cancer is the most common cancer caused by Lynch syndrome, followed by uterine cancer. The syndrome also causes other less common cancers, such as stomach cancers, ovarian cancers, kidney cancers and urinary tract cancers. The invention is significant for colon cancer in particular: it offers the best opportunities for prevention through early detection of benign precancerous stages.

LEHTIKUVA / SARI GUSTAFSSONA 
www.helsinki.fi