New Approach for Immediate Pain Free Diagnosis of Oral Cancers

Friday 6th March 2020

Zilico Ltd has been awarded £1m funding to drive EIS technology development for an oral cancer diagnostic device

The funding will support the development of the company’s Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) technology for use on the oral epithelium in a unique device to improve the speed and accuracy of oral pre-cancer and cancer diagnosis. For clinicians, the ability to detect disease earlier means better outcomes for patients, and significant cost savings for healthcare providers.

Following Phase I funding awarded in March 2019, Zilico announced that they have been awarded Phase II funding as part of an initiative by SBRI Healthcare. It will help to identify innovations tackling healthcare problems in the area of dentistry, oral health and oral cancers.

The £1m award will enable the company to build on the successes of the Phase I work and further develop the oral device concept towards a functional prototype. This will be used within a pivotal multi-centre clinical trial where gathered data will support plans for the device to gain its regulatory approval. 

Darren Kell, Head of Research at Zilico said;

“We are very pleased that the funding call has identified the need for better diagnostics within the oral cancer pathway. Our initial proof-of-concept data, coupled with the success of our flagship product ZedScan, utilising our core EIS technology and currently used within the cervical cancer pathway demonstrates that we can successfully develop an EIS oral cancer diagnostic.’ 

Zilico is working with University of Sheffield’s Professor of Head and Neck Pathology, Keith D Hunter at the School of Clinical Dentistry, to further develop the technology and device. Professor Hunter said;

“Mouth cancer is on the increase in the UK and globally, and we need new tools to be able to diagnose it earlier. Electrical impedance spectroscopy will help to identify those patients with suspicious oral lesions whilst reducing the need for diagnostic biopsies where no disease is indicated.”

Visual indicators of disease can be misleading or non-apparent and so a non-visual method is needed. Using EIS it is possible to differentiate tissue types and detect dysplasia in real time, even when the cell changes cannot be detected optically.



About Zilico Limited (Manufacturers of ZedScan™)

Zilico was founded in 2006 following a successful collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK, to develop a more accurate means of diagnosis for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). Zilico's head office is located in Manchester, UK. Manufacturing and R&D functions are also carried out in the UK.

Many diseases still rely on visual diagnosis by a clinician. Zilico has developed a technology which recognises the changes in tissue structure using the electrical properties of cells. This non-visual technique allows for earlier detection and therefore allowing for appropriate intervention which can prevent the disease from further progression.

ZedScan, Zilico’s flagship product, a diagnostic in the cervical cancer pathway is now in routine use across several NHS hospitals. The ability to identify correctly those women who have and those who do not have disease is pivotal to the success of any screening programme and when used, ZedScan has demonstrated greater accuracy in detecting cervical disease and hence helping better management of patients.

The company has developed its patented Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) into a platform technology for cancer diagnosis and is expanding its product development into other clinical areas

Read: Use of electrical impedance spectroscopy to detect malignant and potentially malignant oral lesions.


About SBRI

This project is supported by SBRI Healthcare, an NHS England initiative, led by the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs).

SBRI Healthcare is an NHS England & NHS Improvement initiative, supported by the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and managed by LGC Group. We aim to promote UK economic growth whilst addressing unmet health needs and enhancing the take up of known best practice.

As part of Innovation Health and Wealth, the SBRI Healthcare programme sets industry the challenge in a series of health related competitions which resulted in fully funded development contracts between the awarded company and the NHS.

The SBRI programme is based on taking a two-phased development approach, projects start with initial feasibility and can then move on to more detailed product development. Phase 1 contracts for feasibility testing are valued at up to £100,000 and last for six months. Phase 2 contracts for prototype development are worth up to £1 million over 1 year.