Major award for Cambridge researcher takes prostate biopsy device into clinical application


Researchers in Cambridge have secured funding of nearly £800,000 from the NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) programme to take a novel test for prostate cancer from a prototype to a CE-marked device for clinical application.

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The CamProbe (Cambridge Prostate Biopsy Device), developed  by Mr Vincent Gnanapragasam (University lecturer and Consultant Urologist at Cambridge University Hospitals - pictured) and his team, is a safer biopsy method for the early detection of prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men in the UK.

The current method of diagnosing prostate cancer is with a needle biopsy of the prostate guided by a transrectal ultrasound probe inserted into the rectum. This method and carries a significant risk of side effects including urinary infections and severe sepsis as the needle traverses the bowel a number of times on the way to the prostate.

The CamProbe will allow biopsies to be performed through the much more sterile transperineal route under local anaesthesia. In pilot trials the CamProbe resulted in no infections compared to rates of 5-12% from the current transrectal biopsy method. Moreover 8/10 men preferred the CamProbe approach over the current transrectal biopsy method and would recommend it to a relative or friend.

Mr Gnanapragasam, who co-leads the Urological Malignancies Programme at the CRUK Cambridge Centre, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to improve prostate cancer diagnotics and I am delighted that NIHR have chosen to invest in the CamProbe. Its use in hospital outpatient departments will mean a positive change in the experience of patients referred with suspected prostate cancer and a much safer way to diagnose the disease.”

This is the largest NIHR I4I award to be awarded to the University of Cambridge and only the second in a cancer theme. The i4i scheme funds the development of new healthcare technologies, devices and interventions for increased patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need.


About Cambridge University Hospitals

Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) is one of the largest and best known hospitals in the country, delivering high-quality patient care through Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals. CUH is a leading national centre for specialist treatment for rare or complex conditions and a university teaching hospital with a worldwide reputation.

CUH is a key partner in Cambridge University Health Partners (CUHP), one of only six academic health science centres in the UK, and is at the heart of the development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC), which brings together on one site world-class biomedical research, patient care and education.  As part of the Campus development, Papworth Hospital is creating a bespoke, purpose-built hospital, and AstraZeneca is building a new global R&D centre and corporate headquarters.  The Campus is one of the government’s 11 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) comprehensive biomedical research centres. 

The Trust already works closely with a number of research partners across the Campus, for example, the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the University of Cambridge and The Wellcome Trust, to develop new drugs and new therapies to improve treatment and patient care.

About the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre is a partnership between University of Cambridge, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Cancer Research UK. It was established in 2005 as a dynamic collaboration of researchers, clinicians, and the pharmaceutical and biotech industries based in the Cambridge area. The membership of the Centre includes over 200 scientific principal investigators and senior investigators as well as around 140 NHS consultants who are engaged in cancer related clinical or translational research across a number of institutes and departments.

The Centre combines world-class science and technology with excellent patient care to pioneer new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. By working together across different disciplines, it aims to break down the barriers between the laboratory and the clinic, enabling patients to benefit from the latest innovations in cancer science.

About the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research.

 Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR:

·           funds high quality research to improve health

·           trains and supports health researchers

·           provides world-class research facilities

·           works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all

·           involves patients and the public at every step

For further information, visit the NIHR website

About Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre

Based within the most outstanding NHS and University partnerships in the country, the Biomedical Research Centres are leaders in scientific translation. Located on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, they receive substantial levels of funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to translate fundamental biomedical research into clinical research that benefits patients and they are early adopters of new.



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