Year/Course: 2018-2019
Project type: Medical
Mentor: Dr Marc Bax

Inventor: Dr. Elizabeth Moore, Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Addenbrookes Hospital & Cancer Research UK
Mentor: Dr. Marc Bax

Ovarian cancer is typically difficult to diagnose by symptoms alone, with the result that many cases are not diagnosed until the cancer is at a late stage. The current blood test which is used as the first diagnostic step in primary care (for example at GP surgeries in the UK) does not match well to cases, giving both false positives and false negatives.

Dr. Moore has focused her research on whether cervical sampling can give a more accurate detection method. Existing cervical brushes have been designed to collect cells for cervical cancer screening and do not reliably collect any tumour DNA that may be present from ovarian cancers. Therefore she is intending to design a new type of cervical screening device which can collect tumour DNA to aid earlier detection, and can be used in primary care without needing a referral to hospital.

There are two main classes of possible device, either one that needs to be administered by a healthcare professional as part of a formal screening programme (as is the case for cervical cancer screening), or one that can be self-administered by the patient.

The question for the i-Team is which type of device would have the greatest take-up and patient acceptability. The cervical screening programme, for example, only has a takeup of 70%. By engaging with patient groups, cancer charities, and looking at the experience of the cervical screening programmes, the i-Team will investigate and recommend the best approach.