Pharmaceutical group Kyowa Hakko UK has inked a deal with Germany’s Matritech to distribute the latter’s new test for bladder cancer in the UK and Ireland.

The NMP22 BladderChek Test is a simple urine test that works by detecting a protein - nuclear matrix protein 22 - expressed by tumour cells. The test requires just four drops of urine to make a diagnosis and, importantly, is unaffected by blood in the urine, a common symptom of bladder cancer.

Clinical studies have shown that the test is more sensitive at identifying early-stage bladder cancer than traditional cytology method, the group claims. Furthermore, it says, the NMP22 BladderChek Test is designed for use alongside cystoscopy, as research has demonstrated that the combination is better at detecting bladder tumours than cystoscopy alone.

Rapid results

But perhaps its most important advantage is its rapid diagnosis. According to the company, the test is able to provide results within minutes instead of the days it takes with cytology, offering earlier identification of bladder cancer and thereby faster access to treatment.

In the UK alone, 10,000 people each year develop bladder cancer, and it claims 4,700 lives, more than cervical cancer, according to Cancer Research UK figures. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for the best chance of survival, but many early symptoms are similar to non-malignant conditions and urinary tract infections.

Mr Hugh Mostafid, Consultant Urologist at Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Using the NMP22 Test has enabled us to complete all our investigations within the one stop clinic rather than having to wait a week for the urine cytology results before deciding on treatment, making our one stop haematuria clinic truly one stop.”

Commenting on the deal, Hiroshi Furukawa, president of Kyowa Hakko UK, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us and one that complements our existing knowledge and expertise in the oncology and urology fields. Our chemotherapy agent Mitomycin C is already an established front line treatment for bladder cancer and so the addition of the new test to our portfolio will allow Kyowa Hakko to further expand its role as a market leader in the management of this disease.”