The Malta Independent 21 May 2019, Tuesday

Earlier and less invasive cancer detection technology developed at UoM

Jeremy Micallef Monday, 11 March 2019, 17:51 Last update: about 3 months ago

A research group at the University of Malta has used findings through their work to develop a new technology which will make it possible to conduct earlier, and less invasive methods of diagnosing breast and large intestinal cancer.

Professor Godfrey Grech presented the findings of the project entitled Accurate Cancer Testing (ACT) Monday at the Department of Pathology at the University of Malta, which also received funding from the Malta Council for Science (MCST) and came from the Parliamentary Secretariat for Innovation.

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“The aim was to develop more precise and sensitive methods of determining the characteristics of tumours in samples, and even in cellular material – exams – which come from a tumour.”

Present for the presentation were Minister for Health Chris Fearne, Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation Silvio Schembri, and MCST executive chairman Jeffery Pullicino Orlando.

Collaborating with industry player Applied BioTech, the research team’s aim was to enhance the accuracy and sensitivity of the technology to further study tumors derived from colorectal cancer and to commercialize precision medicine tests by adapting the methodology.

The research professionals conducted their work in a state-of-the-art facility at the Centre of Molecular Medicine and Biobanking, in collaboration with local project partners Mater Dei Hospital and Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Center and other international collaborators and technology partners.

Fearne highlighted how from being limited to teaching, the University of Malta had now begun moving towards a role that also involved significant, and relevant research.

From previously having a main role of producing graduates to go on to work for the country, the Health Minister explained that, whilst this was an important role, it shouldn’t necessarily be the only one.

“We now recognize that the University of Malta has an important research role too, primarily in the health sector.

Although we previously thought that our university was too small to carry out significant research, we are now changing this attitude. We have the potential to do groundbreaking research.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri said that research and innovation go together to find a solution and in the case of the health sector their role combined is essential as we see in the huge advancement medical sector has gone through over the past decades.

"Hence, it is crucial to keep on investing in FUSION programme to encourage Maltese researchers to sustain their research in order to identify solutions. I’m satisfied on how research is developing in fact through this fund around €8million were invested in research which is leaving an impact on our economy” said Schembri.

Schembri thanked the researchers and scientists involved in this project, in particular the young ones who invested their time in this project. ‘Being a scientist isn’t just a job but a mission that is done with passion hence we are committed to sustain their work and efforts in their best interest and that of the well-being of society’

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