Antegenes, one of the rising HealthTech spin-offs of University of Tartu, has developed novel genetic tests that enable to assess an individual’s personal cancer risks and provide science-based medical recommendations for prevention of the disease. The tests are based on the polygenic risk score technology, which helps clarify the person’s genetic predisposition to cancer and allows for more accurate prevention and early detection measures. Currently, tests are available to determine the genetic risk to four cancers: breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and skin melanoma.
Cancer is a disease heavily influenced by genetics, explained Dr James Mackay, Medical Director at Everything Genetic. “Although it has long been understood that genetics plays a role in predisposition to cancer, the polygenic risk score technology gives proven data to demonstrate just how significant role an individual’s genes might play in the likelihood of them developing cancer. The earlier the patient’s cancer risks are known, the better doctors can plan and take preventative measures,” Dr Mackay said.
“The genetic tests of Antegenes have the potential to make a real difference to cancer prevention by identifying people at increased risk of cancer, who will get timely screening and a personalised follow-up plan, regardless of age. It demonstrates a huge step in personalised medicine, which impacts individual patients’ outcomes across the UK,” Dr Mackay noted.
James Price, the CEO of Everything Genetic, sees that the investment into Antegenes’ polygenic risk testing technology can vastly improve the patient outcomes for those likely to develop cancers. “Genetic testing for cancer prevention has until now been only available in private clinics with costs running into thousands of pounds. Our partnership with Antegenes is an excellent way to bring down the cost of testing and take the innovative technology to as many people as possible,” Price explained.
Dr Peeter Padrik, the CEO of Antegenes, believes that the current cooperation is a historic step in the development of Estonian health technology. “We and our international partner have a clear shared vision of how innovative genetic solutions can help save lives and reduce the damaging impact of cancer on our society,” said Padrik.
Personalised medicine based on biobank
The Estonian Biobank, established in 2001, is a population-based biobank of Estonia with a current cohort size of more than 200,000 individuals (genotyped with genome-wide arrays), reflecting the age, sex and geographical distribution of the adult Estonian population. Considering the fact that about 20% of Estonia’s adult population has joined the program, it is indeed a database that is very important for the development of medical science both domestically and internationally. Being one of the most successful population-based biobanks in Europe, the Estonian database regularly receives additional data about biobank participants from national health-related databases and registries, thereby constantly updating the biobank database over time and, with it, improving the methods developed for better prediction of health risks.
Estonia is one of the world’s best places for health innovation as the following video explains.