Clinicians in Southampton are set to lead a pioneering UK study into the use of a urine test that could help to diagnose bladder cancer.
Tim Dudderidge, a consultant urological surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, and his team will recruit around 40 patients who have been diagnosed with the disease to participate in the trial.
They will take urine samples from patients before treatment begins and at every follow-up appointment over a six-month period using the Mcm5-ELISA test, developed by Sunderland-based Arquer Diagnostics Ltd.
It works by detecting a protein, known as minichromosome maintenance complex component 5 (Mcm5), which is shed into urine by bladder and prostate tumours.
Bladder cancer is the seventh most common type in the UK, with around 10,000 people diagnosed every year. Around two-thirds of cases recur within five years, so patients are monitored routinely after treatment.
Patients are currently tested and monitored via an invasive cystoscopy examination, which involves passing a thin device through the urethra - the tube which carries urine out of the body - to examine the inside of the bladder.
"There is currently an unmet need for a test that would allow for more screening and enable earlier detection of bladder cancer," explained Mr Dudderidge.
"At present, patients are referred to hospital to undergo a cystoscopy examination which involves using local anaesthetic and can be very uncomfortable for patients.
"The Mcm5-ELISA test has the potential to provide patients with a simple and non-invasive solution for screening and for the detection of recurrence for the first time and we are pleased to be part of such an exciting development."
Dr Ian Campbell, chief executive of Arquer Diagnostics, added: "We are committed to improving outcomes for bladder and prostate cancer patients.
"At present, over 150,000 cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed in Europe annually and this number is increasing.
"The health economic benefits of our Mcm5-ELISA test would enable accurate, non-invasive close monitoring of the disease at low cost."