After my gall bladder surgery in early 2014, I got to thinking…could the doctor have checked the other organs (e.g. pancreas, liver, et al) while doing the removal procedure for my gall bladder? How do I know if I have early stages of cancer in my body? The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to learn more. So I started following the news stories that had anything to do with early cancer detection. This article gave me a real shot in the arm when I read it in early 2015. Since then, I have been reading and researching many different articles on early cancer detection. Being a computer engineer, this is challenging, since I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention in chemistry class…and I never had a college level biology class. So, a kind associate let me borrow his medical terminology book so that I could learn. Always be a learner!
Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with an experimental app called “BiliScreen” that can detect small amounts of bilirubin in the whites of your eyes. Since pancreatic cancer raises levels of bilirubin, this could be a way to detect this elusive cancer much earlier.
One of the more interesting companies in this space is Epic Sciences who recently announced the completion of a Series D funding round. What is very interesting about Epic’s approach is their “no cell left behind” approach. By maintaining all cells on a slide, there is an opportunity to better classify and categorize what is going on.
There are ~40 companies actively pursuing techniques for early cancer detection using simple blood draws, urine samples, et al. And the space is getting crowded. There is lots to do in this area to make it more efficient, cost-effective, and accurate. New ventures will need to “find a lane” to race in to be successful. Send me an email if you’d like to discuss this.