Singapore company to launch more accurate gastric cancer screening kit

An image of human stomach cells taken at a 40x magnification showing the fusion of two genes that can be a risk factor for gastric cancer.
An image of human stomach cells taken at a 40x magnification showing the fusion of two genes that can be a risk factor for gastric cancer. PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF MOLECULAR AND CELL BIOLOGY AND GENOME INSTITUTE OF SINGAPORE, A*STAR

SINGAPORE - A new screening kit that boasts higher accuracy rates for diagnosing gastric cancer than other generic cancer screening tests will be launched at a medical trade fair abroad next week.

The kit, called GC-REAAD, is a blood-based test to detect gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer. It was developed by a team from the National University of Singapore's (NUS ) Department of Biochemistry and Singapore-based medical diagnostic company Restalyst, which holds an exclusive licence for the technology from the NUS.

According to a joint release on Wednesday (Nov 11), GC-REAAD showed sensitivity and specificity rates of between 80 to 95 per cent in validation studies, compared to 16 to 63 per cent for other cancer biomarker tests. Sensitivity measures the proportion of positive samples that are correctly identified, while specificity measures the proportion of negative samples that are correctly identified.

Gastric cancer is the fifth most common cancer globally, and the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Its high mortality rate is attributed to the fact that most cases are diagnosed at a late stage.

The GC-REAAD kit is designed to complement other diagnostic tests, such as the endoscopy, which remains the gold standard for detecting gastric cancer.

"Compared to an endoscopy or a tissue biopsy, the GC-REAAD is minimally-invasive, which helps to improve patient compliance," said Restalyst chief executive officer Zaccheus Peh.

"Moving forward, in addition to conducting larger clinical validations, we will be seeking approvals from the respective authorities in various countries, including Health Sciences Authority of Singapore, then rolling out GC-REAAD in these markets."

Restalyst will be launching the GC-REAAD kit at MEDICA 2015, the largest medical trade fair, held from Nov 16 to 19 in Germany.

tiffanyt@sph.com.sg