Life-saving brain cancer blood test being developed in Scotland: ClinSpec DX.MR026

30 April 2019

Life-saving brain cancer blood test being developed in Scotland

A University of Strathclyde spinout company, ClinSpec Diagnostics Limited, is developing a pioneering new blood test for the early detection of brain cancer. The low cost test provides rapid results, giving doctors an accurate test for brain cancer and reducing delays in referral times, which will ultimately lead to lives being saved.

The innovative blood test technology could be in use in UK hospitals in three to four years, with further blood tests being developed by the company for other diseases, such as pancreatic and prostate cancer.

During a visit to the company today to hear about its successes, Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “I’m pleased to visit ClinSpec Dx today to announce the £600,000 of funding from Scottish Enterprise that supported their spin-out from the University of Strathclyde and development of an innovative new blood test for brain cancer.

“The blood test demonstrates significant advancements in cancer detection methods, and will play a vital role in helping to save lives. This technology also paves the way for similar blood tests to be developed in the future for other diseases.

“By supporting this promising university spin-out, the Scottish Government is helping to translate key research outputs into practical medical innovations.”

Dr Mark Hegarty, CEO ClinSpec Diagnostics said: “We are delighted to have raised over £1.6 million of funding from EOS, Mercia Fund Managers, Scottish Investment Bank, Scottish Edge and Innovate UK, enabling us to spinout from the University and progress to the next stage of clinical development. Scottish Enterprise support has been vital in helping us reach this milestone.”

The project previously received £600,000 of funding and support from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spinout Programme to build the prototype technology and develop the commercial proposition.

Andrew Henderson, Scottish Enterprise’s High Value Manufacturing and Health team leader, said: “ClinSpec is a fantastic example of how our support is helping to turn ground-breaking academic research from our world-class universities into globally competitive companies of scale.

“Spinout companies like ClinSpec will save lives around the world by enabling complex medical conditions to be diagnosed and treated more rapidly, accurately and effectively than previously possible.

“We want to support more academics and entrepreneurs to export their inventions from the laboratory to the market place to drive sustainable and purposeful economic growth for Scotland.”

The ClinSpec Diagnostics blood test is based on world leading research in the Pure & Applied Chemistry Department at the University of Strathclyde. For over a decade, Dr Matthew J. Baker has pioneered methods to detect cancer using infrared spectroscopy to analyse blood serum, and the diagnostic algorithm has been developed in collaboration with Dr David Palmer, also of Strathclyde.

Dr Matthew J. Baker said: “It’s exciting to be able to move the science from the laboratory to the clinic, and I look forward to releasing the test for patients.

“Strathclyde is known for its innovative environment, which fosters research that makes a positive impact on people’s lives. Today marks an important milestone for Clinspec Diagnostics and the health services it will support – and ultimately, the patients and families that will benefit from the test.”

Brain cancer is very difficult to detect and diagnose. The main symptom is a headache, which could point to a variety of other health conditions, many of which are not life threatening.

Currently 38% of patients have to visit their GP more than five times before being diagnosed with brain cancer, and 62% are only diagnosed in an emergency*. This is why brain cancer reduces life expectancy more than any other cancer, on average by 20 years*.

The new blood test has the potential to indicate the type and severity of the tumour, allowing doctors to prioritise and fast-track the most appropriate and effective treatments. Clinical studies are underway now in Edinburgh to speed the development of the technology.

Notes to Editors

*statistics taken from

Photograph is of Dr Matthew Baker of ClinSpec with Business Minister Jamie Hepburn at the company's laboratory at the University of Strathclyde's Technology and Innovation Centre (credit - Mark Runnacles)

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