New boost for electronic cancer probe

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A PIONEERING Sheffield invention that could help save the lives of thousands of women every year has got an important boost from a new study unveiled in a specialist medical journal.

Sheffield University spinout Zilico has developed a portable hand-held device that instantly, painlessly and accurately detects cervical cancer, which affects around 500,000 women worldwide each year and is responsible for 300,000 deaths.

Zilico’s device detects potential cancer by measuring the resistivity of cells – a process known as electrical impedance spectroscopy – and the new study has been published in the International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, BJOG.

Specialists at hospitals in Dublin, Manchester and Sheffield carried out the study, among them Professor John Tidy, the consultant gynaecological oncologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, who founded Zilico.

They compared results from using the device and traditional methods, involving detailed visual examination and removing tissue so that it can be examined under a microscope.

They then went on to use Zilico’s technology to pinpoint sites for visual examination and biopsies and found it could result in more appropriate patient management and lower intervention rates.

The latest study comes less than a year after Zilico succeeded in raising £1.75 million in two tranches to back plans to launch its device commercially later this year.

It also follows a year during which Prof Tidy won the Best Scientific Paper Award at a conference in San Francisco, organised by The American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.

Zilico is backed by Fusion IP, the Sheffield company that commercialises research by Sheffield and Cardiff University academics.