MAGGIE PAGANO: Brilliant British biotech champion shines
Britain’s brilliant biotech scientists have done it again. The brains at Oxford BioDynamics have created a blood screening test for prostate cancer that has an efficacy rate of 94%, an astonishing level of accuracy in detecting the presence or absence of cancer.
It is a major breakthrough as the existing PSA test is only 55 per cent accurate and is considered highly unreliable by many NHS doctors.
If the results show an elevated PSA level, patients often face more invasive screening tests, such as a prostate biopsy, which in turn poses health risks. However, it has been shown that three-quarters of men who undergo the biopsy (and suffer its discomfort) did not need it. Now they don’t need to go through agony or anguish.
The brains at Oxford BioDynamics have created a blood screening test for prostate cancer that has a 94 percent effectiveness rate (file image)
Known as EpiSwitch Prostate Screening (PSE), this test works in conjunction with the existing PSA test. It works like this. The PSE combines the PSA score with five other proprietary epigenetic biomarkers.
The success rate is high. Three in ten benefit from standard PSA, while nine in ten will be successfully diagnosed with both together. The Oxford PSE test was launched yesterday in the UK and US after clearing all clinical hurdles and is available to private patients.
The costs of the test are absorbed between the patient’s doctor and health insurance, and results are obtained in five days.
It’s an innovation that chief executive Jon Burrows wants to get into the hands of NHS GPs as soon as possible.
It has yet to apply to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), the health body that approves new tests and drugs, but hopes the NHS will fast-track the trial once it has been approved.
Both Nice and the NHS should act quickly. Around 50,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, so the earlier it is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. As Burrows told me, using the new test will save the NHS a lot of money because clinics will not need to perform biopsies or use MRIs.
“We should have a national plan to screen all men over 50,” he said. “It’s a win for everyone.”
As you can imagine, Oxford shares soared upon the release. The benefits are obvious. They more than doubled their price to 26.8p, valuing the Aim-listed biotech specialist at £54.6m.
What’s also comforting is knowing that most of Oxford’s investors are British. Over the last year, Burrows and his team of 50 have raised £14 million for the laboratory expansion and facilities.
Both the life sciences and biotech sectors have been undervalued over the past year, but now you can feel a real shift in perception occurring.
Combined industries are among the most successful, as evidenced by this latest creation. Keep them coming.
It is a great advance since the existing PSA test is only 55% accurate (file photo)
JP Morgan’s billionaire boss Jamie Dimon has a knack for generating juicy headlines. His latest interview on CNBC TV18 in India was no exception, warning that US interest rates may have to rise as high as 7% – and stay higher for longer – to contain inflation.
But it was Dimon’s comments on geopolitics that were most poignant and of greatest importance. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a much bigger risk, he claimed, than inflation, deficits or even a recession in the United States.
More dangerous, in Dimon’s view, is how the war has polarized global powers, altering the balance of power in a way not seen since World War II.
What bothers him most is the tense nature of relations between the United States and China. He added that Americans should stop thinking of China as a ten-foot giant and consider it a blessing to have food and freedom.
In an ironic tone, no doubt, he added that, of course, JP Morgan is not the one who formulates US foreign policy. Knowing Dimon, that sounded like a searing warning shot over the White House.
Hollywood strikes again
A Hollywood strike may be coming to an end, but the fallout continues, as evidenced by the huge loss reported by Videndum.
However, the impact is much deeper. Hundreds of British filmmakers, lighting experts and videographers, working mainly as independent contractors, have not been paid for months due to the closure. They were stuck in limbo, unable to claim benefits or find temporary work because they were still technically employed. They will no doubt take revenge on the actors and writers, arresting them once the cameras roll again.