High-resolution images for improved cancer diagnosis  

Every year, more than 2,000 patients in Sweden are affected by rectal cancer. Today, most patients with early rectal cancer undergo unnecessarily risky and complicated surgeries because we cannot reliably determine whether the cancer is spread to nearby lymph nodes – an important marker of how far the cancer has progressed.

Need for improved diagnostics of rectal cancer

There are currently no reliable diagnostic methods for detecting whether the rectal cancer is spread outside the intestine to the nearby lymph nodes. Most patients diagnosed with early rectal cancer are therefore recommended to undergo a complicated and risky surgery. The operation can lead to serious complications for the patient; these can adversely affect the quality of life. It often results in stoma, problems emptying the bladder, and leakage from the intestine, which can lead to serious infections.

Published research has shown that cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes was absent in 9 out of 10 cases in patients diagnosed with early rectal cancer who had undergone major surgery. In these cases, a minor procedure would have been sufficient, and the quality of life of the patient could have been maintained. This is largely due to the lack of reliable diagnostic methods to map the spread of the cancer (Rönnow et. al. 2020).

NanoEcho is an innovative company specialising in a new, user-friendly imaging method called magnetomotive ultrasound. This high-precision method makes it possible to detect rectal cancer spread to the lymph nodes before surgery. This means that fewer risky surgical procedures could be performed, and more patients could undergo a minor procedure instead, thereby leading to both lower healthcare costs and a better quality of life for the patient.

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The road to the market

NanoEcho is actively developing a system tailored to meet market and customer requirements to reliably diagnose the spread of rectal cancer to nearby lymph nodes. The system will be verified and validated, and a clinical registration study for marketing authorisation will be prepared and performed (CE marking). In parallel with the preparation and conduct of the clinical registration study, the company plans to prepare for market launch by engaging leading rectal surgeons as well as by seeking market collaboration with existing ultrasound and nanoparticle distributors.


In the next step, there are good opportunities to develop the method further (e.g., for the diagnosis of prostate cancer).

NanoEcho as investment

Addresses an unmet
medical need

 

50% global growth by 2030

 

Reduce healthcare costs and improve quality of life

An experienced team with a proven technique

Current rectal cancer diagnostics

Approximately 600,000 people worldwide are affected by rectal cancer every year. About one third of them die within five years as a result of their disease. In order to detect the cancer at an early stage and thereby increase the possibility of getting the right treatment on time, many countries have introduced rectal cancer screening. In Sweden, screening was initially introduced in 2021.

Today, rectal cancer patients are usually treated with radiation combined with surgery. In order to be able to determine the diagnosis and offer an individualised optimal treatment, it is important for the medical team to know whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

In today’s standardised course of care, rectal cancer is diagnosed through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scan, rectoscopy, and – in selected cases – an ultrasound of the rectum.

However, current methods cannot reliably map the spread of the cancer to nearby lymph nodes. This affects the treatment strategy and results in many patients with early rectal cancer undergoing unnecessarily large risky surgeries.

The challenge of increasing survival for rectal cancer patients

Today, the five-year survival rate for both prostate and breast cancer is over 90%, whilst the five-year survival rate for rectal cancer is only about 67%.

In order to increase survival in patients with rectal cancer, it is important to detect the cancer early and to determine whether it has spread to nearby lymph nodes and other organs. In order to achieve this, better diagnostic methods are required.

Ambition

– to be part of the standardised course of care

Today, established clinical practice for mapping rectal cancer and determining its spread includes tissue analysis (biopsy), computed tomography of the chest, and magnetic resonance imaging of the pelvic region. The results of the three studies provide a basis for diagnosis and prognosis as well as choice of treatment. Unfortunately, there are limitations with these methods when it comes to mapping the spread to nearby lymph nodes.

NanoEcho aims to become part of established clinical practice in rectal cancer diagnostics as well as the standardised course of care. The company intends to contribute to a more reliable mapping of rectal cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes; this is important information in order to enable a more individualised cancer treatment and thus an increased quality of life for patients.

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