University: Heriot Watt University
Sector(s): Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Electronics, Sensors & Photonics, Engineering & Manufacturing, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, Other
The Challenge: Prostate cancer kills ~250,000 men per year worldwide but is increasingly treatable when diagnosed early. With an aging and increasingly longer living population, cases of prostate cancer are due to increase 20% over the next 20 years. 1 in 2 men will experience prostate problems at some stage of their lives and whilst this does not always involve cancer, in the vast majority of cases it will involve a finger examination of the prostate via digital rectal examination (DRE).
DRE can only accurately diagnose cancer in less than 10% of cases, and is not sensitive enough to detect small tumours; blood tests are non-cancer specific and take specialist labs to proves the results whilst other methods for diagnosis require expensive or painful treatments.
The Solution: The eFinger, or “Electronic finger”, is a probe that can differentiate between cancerous and healthy tissue quickly and easily. The probe offers an alternate to digital rectal examination (DRE) providing a prostate cancer screening tool to identify those patients that may require more invasive tests such as biopsy & trans-rectal ultrasound (TRUS).
eFinger offers a non-subjective (i.e. numerical) method for prostate examination and allows the medical practitioner to look for and monitor signs of prostate cancer leading to suitable treatment planning. This device is for use in hospitals and medical practices and could be used by urologists or GPs after minimal training.
- Non-subjective alternative to Digital rectal examination (DRE) - measures tissue proerties
- Finger mounted probe can be worn under exam gloves
- Makes prostate cancer diagnosis faster, cheaper, less painful vs certain other tests (biopsy/ TRUS)
- No more invasive/ Painful than than standard DRE
- Low cost tool - no need for high capital support (ultrasound/ MRI/biopsy lab)
- Prostate Cancer Screening
IP Status: "Proof of Concept/ mode of operation" is proven on excised matter with several journal papers published to support the eFinger tool. To aid understanding of the eFinger diagnostic tool and its clinical applications, an information pack of “Non-confidential .technical materials” is available to interested parties on request from the University TT office.
UK patent application filed September 2014 to protect the e-Finger device, designs and mode of operation with international application planned for late 2015. Due to this priority filing, detailed information on eFinger is available under confidentiality agreement only (available on request).
Ethical approval has been sought/ granted and the EFinger team now seek clinicians for collaboration & further trials; investors in Med-Tech to support a new venture; or device/ diagnostic instrument manufactures to support further development.