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AL.MA. TEST: early detection of colorectal cancer

Al.ma. TestColorectal cancerHtrA1iFOBTPlasma


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common malignant cancer in the world and a major public health concern. In Europe it ranks first in incidence and second in mortality, with about 446,000 new cases each year. CRC mortality is high (~214,000 deaths/year), and second only to lung cancer (353,000 deaths/year). More than 95% of CRC cases would benefit from surgery if diagnosed early or in the pre-cancerous polyp phase.

Technical features

The invention concerns a new test called Al.Ma. for the early detection of colorectal cancer (CCR), which evaluates the decrease in expression of a protein, HtrA1, at the plasma level or in a histological sample. Its application involves both HtrA1 used individually and in combination with iFOBT. The latter application is called “Al.Ma. combined test”. The new test has the advantage of having a higher sensitivity than the most reliable version of FOBT, i.e. the one performed with immunochemistry technique (iFOBT), when used individually on a plasma sample and a higher sensitivity and specificity when used in combination with iFOBT. This test could be used as a routine population-based CCR screening either alone or as a combination before subjecting a subject with faecal occult blood positive to colonoscopy.

Possible Applications

  • Adaptable solution as routine screening for CCR;
  • Analysis of high-sensitivity histological samples;
  • Production of diagnostic kits for use in hospitals, private clinics and analysis laboratories.


  • Non-invasive diagnosis;
  • Better predictive ability than current methods;
  • Facilitates JRC screening procedures.