He is a stem cell researcher and cell biologist at Karolinska Institutet who is managing the Cellrace research project together with Liv Diagnostics, with the aim of developing a new, powerful tool to support diagnostics in cancer care.

Nanosurface imitates the body

Metastases, or secondary tumours, cause around 90 per cent of all deaths from cancer. The ability to gain knowledge as soon as possible about the cancer cells’ tendency to spread and form metastases could save many lives.

The Cellrace research is based on studies of a biopsy on a specially designed nanosurface.

“It is not possible to study the cells’ movements and behaviour on a microscope slide, as that is not their natural environment. On our nanosurface, we have imitated critical properties from the environment in which they usually operate, i.e. in the body. There we can study them in real time”, says Michael Andäng.

At present there is a prototype and the researchers have been able to show statistically significant differences between metastasising cells and non-metastasising cells.

“Now we are refining the product and preparing to collaborate with clinics. For example, we want to repeat the tests with recently obtained biopsies.”

A market worth many millions

The market for the product which, according to Liv Diagnostics’ CEO Johan Bjurquist, opens a new technological sector and has no competition at all, is dizzyingly vast:

“The data and estimations that exist for the cancer diagnostics market with regard to breast, lung and colorectal cancer, along with malignant melanoma, lie between seven and thirteen billion US dollars per year. But you also have to consider that there is a very strong ethical incentive to help and that there is also a very great need to manage and limit costs to society, which are enormous”, he says.

Looking for a major partner

After Swelife’s funding, the project received support from the Västra Götaland region, as well as follow-on investments from private investors.

“One important part of our strategy is to sign an agreement with a major partner within a short time. I believe we can have launched this test within three to five years.”

Updated: 30 January 2018

Text: Jörgen Olsson

For a competitive life science ecosystem in Sweden

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