Perth company gains global recognition for ‘revolutionary’ new cancer technology
Brendan Kennedy, OncoRes CEO Katherine Giles and oncologist Christobel Saunders hope to revolutionise breast cancer detection. (Supplied)
Perth-based technology start-up OncoRes Medical has been internationally recognised for its work in attempting to improve the outcome of breast cancer surgery.
The WA company was announced as one of three winners at the London-held finals of [email protected] — a competition that identifies emerging start-ups from around the world.
OncoRes Medical is developing a surgical imaging tool that, in essence, turns what surgeons can feel into something they can see, basically creating a digital image of the tissue.
Dr Brendan Kennedy from the Harry Perkins Institute, and the inventor of the technology, said it has the potential to be revolutionary.
“So at the moment the main way that the tumour is identified is through stiff lumps, so we’re effectively translating that sense of touch — or that stiffness the tumour has — to a micro-scale that you can’t detect with your fingers,” he said.
“When you’re actually in the surgery, the surgeon is often just relying on their eyesight and their fingers to determine if they’ve got all of the cancer out.
“I find it incredible, as an engineer, that we’ve got all of this marvellous technology in the world but when it comes to such a critical decision in a surgery, the surgeon is still using what they were using hundreds of years ago.”
Around 30 per cent of people who undergo surgery to remove breast cancer end up requiring additional surgery to remove diseased tissue that was unable to be detected the first time.
OncoRes CEO Katherine Giles said their most recent study with the new technology had been overwhelmingly positive.
“We just finished a 70-patient study at Fiona Stanley Hospital, which shows that the accuracy of our technology is around 95 per cent,” she said.
“That’s far greater than what we had hoped for and certainly blows the competition out of the water.
“This tech is now working very well in a hand-held probe so next year we’ll put our probe into the surgeons hands to use inside the surgical cavity so they can actually look for the tumour that has been missed.”
Pitching to the world
The company is looking to first establish itself on the US market, where Ms Giles said it can then have the most impact globally.
The [email protected] win allows OncoRes to be connected to the Duke of York’s network of contacts. (Supplied)
And she said the recent win at [email protected], which was started by the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, is a massive step towards that goal.
“It was fantastic after having worked on this for so long to get to see Western Australian research being, not only being showcased on a global scale, but also receiving the highest accolade,” she said.
“Part of [email protected] is actually more access to the network at the House of York, and the networks are obviously his networks.
“So we’ve pretty much been told that when we need something to go and speak to one of the secretaries in the Duke of York’s office and to ask for what we need to help accelerate our business.”
OncoRes Medical plans to ultimately develop tools and technology to aid in other areas, including other forms of cancer.