• Rhythm Biosciences has validated all five biomarkers for a colorectal blood test
  • The ColoSTAT test aims to replace current faecal tests
  • Colorectcal cancer kills 800,000 people each year but often cured if detected early

Rhythm Biosciences (ASX:RHY) says it has hit a critical milestone in developing a cheap and effective blood test for colorectal cancer that it hopes will replace the current faecal tests.

Rhythm said on Tuesday it has validated the final two biomarkers for its ColoSTAT test kit, which will screen for five biomarkers to search for signs of bowel cancer.

The company now plans to refine its test-kit algorithm, transfer the core technology to a third-party high volume manufacturer and develop a first prototype test-kit.

“It’s a very exciting time for the company,” said Rhythm chief executive Glenn Gilbert. “We are buoyed with the significant progress we have made with the core technology. A considerable amount of work has gone into selecting, screening, optimising and now technically validating the antibodies for the biomarkers that we expect will make up the final ColoSTAT test-kit.”

Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths, killing an estimated 881,000 people worldwide in 2018.

If detected early, cure rates can be as high as 90 per cent, but current screenings involve invasive colonoscopies, or at-home faecal tests that can be offputting. Rhythm says that only about half of the 251 million people aged 50 to 74 in the US, Europe and Australia get colorectal cancer screening and the company believes its test can increase detection.

The blood tests should be cheaper as well. Rhythm has said it hopes its tests would cost about $30 to $40 each, compared to $150 for the faecal tests.

Rhythm shares were trading at 26.5c just before noon on Tuesday, up eight per cent from Monday, and earlier in the morning hit an all-time of 31c.