Cancer is a leading cause of death in Europe and accounted for about 1.3 million of cancer deaths in 2012. Colorectal cancer (CRC) as compared to breast, lung, and prostate cancers, represents more than 50 % of cancer incidence in Europe. An early detection of cancer through screening has been shown to reduce the mortality from colorectal cancer. Today’s screening methods for the early detection of cancer are based on invasive methods with high costs and, most importantly, due to their logistic and biological complexity, reach only a fraction of the population.
It is well known that colorectal cancer affects both sexes almost equally. Equal numbers of male and female samples of cases and controls are included when the ULTRAPLACAD diagnostic assays are developed and validated. The knowledge obtained through ULTRAPLACAD will be of equal relevance to improving patient management for both sexes.
Cancer biomarkers circulating in body fluids have been shown to reflect the pathological process. For this reason they can be used for cancer diagnosis, prognosis and choice for therapeutic interventions. Biomarker detection is a key aspect to new minimally-invasive diagnostic approaches. However, current barriers to wide spread use of similar approaches are due to lack of sensitivity and specificity tests, and limited availability of low cost detection platforms.
The ULTRAPLACAD project represents a radical change in the detection of colorectal cancer by biomarkers circulating in blood (liquid biopsy). This diagnostic platform will improve early diagnostic testing and also enable more specific selection of patients for therapy, as well as enables therapy monitoring from liquid biopsies, thus reducing invasive procedures and improving patient management.
The development of ULTRAPLACAD platform enables a broad range of clinical applications and is therefore a step to saving thousands of lives and, at the same time, avoiding additional strain on the healthcare systems in developed countries (average cost of detection and annual cost for therapy, which represents approx. 7,2 billion € in Europe only).