Early detectionDetecting tumours at an earlier stage before they have spread around the body can increase the likelihood that surgery and radiotherapy will be curative, and ideally should reduce the impact on the overall quality of life of the patient.
To improve cancer detection and diagnosis, methodologies need to be both sensitive and specific – that is, they need to be able to detect low levels of disease (sensitivity) and accurately distinguish cancer from other diseases/ normal biology (specificity). These characteristics are required to reduce false positives (telling someone they have cancer when they do not) and false negatives (missing a cancer when it is present). Diagnostics also need to be cost effective such that they can be used at a population level without vastly increasing the overall cost of treatment. The Centre will focus in the use of chemical and metabolite sensing for early detection and diagnosis and the development of tools and technologies that improve detection and diagnostic accuracy.

Chemical and metabolite sensing

Chemical and metabolite sensing for cancer detection and diagnosis is the core focus of the Convergence Science Centre. In biology, the metabolome – as compared with the genome and proteome – has significantly higher variability, thereby presenting significant opportunity to robustly identify changes in disease status and progression.

The identification of high specificity metabolomic signatures of disease status coupled with high-sensitivity, low-cost devices to detect the biological signatures has the potential to have significant impact in cancer detection and diagnosis.

Innovations in cancer diagnostics and detection methods

With a focus on clinical translation, the Centre will also support the development of methods to detect and diagnose cancers using: optical technologies; DNA- and protein-based sensor development using well characterised panels of cancer biomarkers; AI and machine learning applied to imaging and cancer data sets.