As life expectancy increases around the world, personalised medicine has become a new hope in the fight against cancer. Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network, Life Length, an SME based in Spain, is validating a new diagnostic test that can help doctors tailor more effective treatment for individual cancer patients.
Life Length’s TAT®, short for Telomere Analysis Technology®, is a clinically-accredited blood test aiming to improve cancer prognosis and treatment. It will allow doctors to adopt a more effective, frequent, and, ultimately, cheaper management of cancer, culminating in better patient care.
Life Length’s blood test can measure tiny protective 'caps'– known as telomeres – that are found at the tips of chromosomes inside our cells. These measurements can provide doctors with personal information on the health of our cells and allow them to select the most appropriate cancer treatment for each patient. This personalised approach can save precious time at a critical period in a patient's life and avoid the financial cost of a ‘trial and error’ approach.
"The signature for cancer is unique for each person and therefore having tailored, personalised treatment is critical to combat the most expensive disease in the world," said Stephen Matlin, CEO and founder of Life Length.
While the research results are promising, before the blood test can be used by oncologists around the world it needs to undergo a major clinical study which, for an SME like Life Length, can be very costly.
Faced with this major financial challenge, Life Length turned to the Enterprise Europe Network for help. Local Network members based in Fundación Parque Científico de Madrid (FPCM), and Fundación para el Conocimiento madri+d, have provided support to Life Length since 2014 and were ready to advise and assist Life Length in applying for the EU’s Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, a programme designed to help innovative small firms with high growth potential.
The Network advisers ensured Life Length’s application was both convincing and complete, which led to the SME securing EUR 3.1 million for its ONCOCHECK project. It will now carry out clinical studies involving 32 hospitals and over 4,000 individuals to support the development of preventive treatments for lung, prostate, solid tumours, leukaemia and other cancers.
"The signature for cancer is unique for each person and therefore having tailored, personalised treatment is critical to combat the most expensive disease in the world," said Matlin.
According to Carmen Gilabert, external relations and project manager at FPCM, funding through the SME instrument is a great opportunity for any SME to step into other markets: "The basic mission of the Network is to help innovative businesses in their process of internationalisation. Helping Life Length get funding through SME instrument will help them do just that."
As life expectancy increases, diseases like cancer will continue to rise. In the absence of imminent cures, the need for better treatment is critical. The Network's support has brought Life Length's tool a step closer to healthcare professionals around the world.
"If our test can soon become a standard in cancer treatment globally, that would be a huge achievement in just a decade," said Matlin.