CLINSPEC: Clinical Spectral Diagnostics for Cancer


Brain tumours reduce life expectancy by, on average, 20 years, the highest of any cancer. Early detection is vital to survival and quality of life, yet one third of patients are only diagnosed after five GP visits, and 62% of brain tumours are not diagnosed until an emergency hospital admission.

In primary care, GPs often have great difficulty separating generic headache symptoms from brain tumour because they do not have a simple, cost effective test to assist with diagnosis. Every headache patient cannot be sent for an expensive CT or MRI scan, and such scans also detect incidental abnormalities (not sinister) which only add to patient anxiety.

In secondary care, neurosurgeons see too many late stage/emergency patients, and treatment monitoring can be hindered by the limitations of CT/MRI and the time-lag between scans.

A rapid, efficient and easy to use blood test for primary and secondary care would revolutionise brain cancer diagnosis and treatment.


Researchers at Strathclyde are establishing a rapid spectroscopic analysis of blood serum, allowing the same day detection of a range of cancers, with first application to brain cancer. The test has high specificity and sensitivity, indicates the type and severity of the tumour and can trace metastases back to primary.

There is also significant potential in treatment monitoring, differentiation of pseudo-progression from actual disease progression, and screening for recurrence.

Key benefits

These include:

  • same-day detection of brain cancer from a simple blood sample
  • early diagnosis and stratification of patients for improved treatment outcomes
  • reagent free, non-destructive, analysis using infrared spectroscopy
  • minimal sample preparation, no need to isolate biomarkers
  • potential to replace cranial biopsy
  • significant cost savings compared to CT/MRI scans

Markets & applications

  • primary & secondary care clinicians worldwide
  • hospital & commercial clinical laboratories
  • the test can be developed for other disease areas eg other cancers and sepsis
  • potential as a companion diagnostic