UBC BIOMOD’s (http://ubcbiomod.com/2017/) mission is to work on a project that will aid people and have a positive impact on society. The are using biomolecular nanotechnology to create a cost-effective assay that could be used for early detection of lung cancer through miRNA. By achieving this, they aim for a more successful prognosis and to ultimately increase rates of patient survival.
Lung cancer accounts for the most deaths of any type of cancer in the U.S. In 2017, it’s estimated that over 150,000 people will die from lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is the most aggressive type of lung cancer, accounting for 15-20% of all lung cancer cases. The five-year survival rate for stage I small cell lung cancer is 31%, decreasing to only 2% for stage IV. Early detection plays a large role in prognosis and survival.
Generally, discomfort due to lung cancer starts in the late-stages, making annual screening an essential tool for detecting lung cancer early. Currently, screening methods are image-based: chest X-rays and low dose CT Scans (LDCT). Chest X-rays have failed to reduce mortality of lung cancer, while LDCT has shown promise by lowering mortality rates by 20% – it still is not able to detect lung cancer at its earliest stages. In addition, due to its subjective nature, it has led to over diagnosis of lung cancer . LDCT requires extremely expensive equipment and has a high cost associated with each test, limiting its feasibility, particularly around the world in less well-funded healthcare systems.
miRNAs provide a much better solution to the early detection of lung cancer as abnormal miRNA concentrations appear much earlier than irregularities that could be observed by LCDT. These irregularities are also very specific to the type of cancer that is progressing. Based on the concentrations of miRNA, the severity and aggressiveness of the tumors could also be characterized.
UBC BIOMOD UBerCoolercular – Detecting Cancer and paving the path for cancer detection via microRNA. A non-invasive, early warning system designed to catch cancer early.