Mitra Bio kick-starts a £530k project in collaboration with Guys and St Thomas’s hospital supported by InnovateUK, to develop molecular screening tools for detection of Melanoma.
London, UK, 1st June 2022 – Mitra Bio is developing a skin epigenetics diagnostics platform that combines the power of non-invasive skin sampling, next-generation sequencing, and data science to guide precision molecular diagnostics for aging and skin cancer. InnovateUK has recently awarded the company a Biomedical Catalyst grant to expand its platform to diagnostics of skin cancer starting with Melanoma.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and rates have risen more than any other top 10 cancers in recent years. Early detection is vital, however, up to 90% of moles removed are found to be harmless when evaluated histologically. Dermatology services receive more urgent referrals for suspected cancer than any other specialty. There are 1M referrals yearly to dermatology specialists and only 6% of them are diagnosed with skin cancer. It is recognised that a significant proportion of patients are seen with non-relevant skin lesions. This creates excessive, unnecessary, and costly referrals to NHS specialists who are already overloaded.
Molecular diagnostics has the potential to reduce the number of harmless moles that are removed, to detect melanoma at an earlier stage and through the use of skin sampling testing kits at home or in the GP to reduce dermatologist referrals.
This work is being undertaken in partnership with Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital with Dr Magnus Lynch as Chief Investigator of the study. The study aims to develop epigenetic and molecular biomarkers that can distinguish melanoma from harmless moles using a non-invasive sampling kit.
Cristiana Banila, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-founder said: “Epigenetics are the best biomarkers for biological ageing and early cancer prevention. As epigenetics are skin-specific, biopsies are required to extract this information from the skin. We are changing the status quo of skin testing, bringing non-invasive sampling for in-depth genomics and epigenomics analysis for the skin. We are excited to test the ability of our technology to identify cancers at early stages, with virtually no pain for the patient. Hopefully, this is just the start to the next generation of diagnosis and early, targeted treatment plans.”
Magnus Lynch, Dermatologist and Chief Investigator of the project said: “ I am excited to work with Mitra Bio on this project. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and is increasing in incidence. Early detection is vital since melanoma is more likely to respond to treatment, however, it can be challenging to distinguish harmless moles from melanoma based on their appearance. This non-invasive molecular test, if successful, has the potential to detect melanoma at an earlier stage and to reduce the need for surgical removal of harmless moles.