German Diagnostics Firm Tackles Early Detection of Cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Hummingbird Diagnostics has teamed up with Saarland University to develop molecular diagnostics that can detect serious diseases early using blood samples. 

Based in Heidelberg, Germany, Hummingbird Diagnostics develops early diagnostics in multiple disease areas, ranging from cancer to cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease. Its technology is based in the detection of miRNA, molecules that are involved in the regulation of gene expression and have emerged as a target with big potential for blood diagnostics.

The company will be working with Andreas Keller and Eckart Meese from the University of Saarland, two renowned experts in miRNA. Under the collaboration agreement, the team will examine at least 5,000 samples to develop tests for severe diseases that include lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Liquid biopsies, or diagnostic test based on blood samples, are a rapidly growing field. The technology has the potential to replace current diagnosis practices that are invasive, painful, and difficult. Cancer is one of the areas where it shows more promise, given it could lead to the development of personalized treatments. But the technology could also have a big impact in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, where the chances to effectively treat them are much higher the earlier the treatment starts.


Image via Ondrej Prosicky

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