Founder Feature: Adam Bryant, CEO of CanSense

In our latest Founder Feature, we’ve partnered with the Super Connect for Good Competition powered by Empact Ventures and Hays. We are talking to the CEO of CanSense, Adam Bryant, who was announced as the Super Connect for Good competition’s regional winner for the West, and runner-up in the National Award

Read on to find out about Adam Bryant and CanSense‘s mission and journey so far.

Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?

CanSense is developing an accurate, fast, non-invasive diagnostic test for the early detection of bowel cancer using Spectroscopy and AI technologies. It is a novel technique used on a routine blood sample that enables GPs to make quick and informed decision for their patients, speeding up the diagnosis and treatment process for those at greatest risk. Reducing the number of patients subjected to unnecessary colonoscopies, helping streamline the clinical pathway. Significantly increasing patient outcomes by early detection – all in an efficient, cost effective manner. 

At CanSense we believe in the early detection of cancer when it can be easily treated with the best possible patient outcomes. 

Our mission is to provide an accessible, accurate, non-invasive rapid diagnostic test that can be widely used in surgeries, screening units and in pharmaceutical trials.

What is the core technology driving your start-up’s product/service? 

Our diagnostic is initially focused on Bowel Cancer which is the third most common cancer globally. 

Our test helps identify patients at the GP, focusing on priority treatment for urgent suspected cancer (USC) patients. Freeing up swamped colonoscopy resources, potentially saving the NHS £265M per annum on unnecessary costly procedures and for other foreign healthcare providers roughly $4.2Bln cost saving from “needless” colonoscopies globally. 

The CanSense CRC test can quite simply change our ability to easily and effectively detect bowel cancer early enough such that we limit the mortality rate significantly – all in a cost-effective manner.

The simple cost-effective technique has huge benefits to society in relation to health, quality of life, improved awareness and outcomes, as well as economic and societal contributions.  

The CanSense diagnostic analyses only blood using spectroscopy and AI technology, significantly improving patient compliance, reduces patient anxiety, discomfort, a shortened turn-around time, reducing complicated pathways which significantly increases patient outcomes, whilst reducing significantly the burden on the NHS. 

We are a major disruptor, with one simple blood test, allowing early cancer detection. A test for everyone providing real Healthcare Value. 

Saving lives saving money. 

What made you decide to take on the challenge of founding your business?

A love of science and technology to solve a significant healthcare problem. To be able to bring my 20+ years business experience to help build a company to take on this challenge – is just so exciting. 

Three reasons really made me decide: My own experience with the real effects of cancer. I have had some close relatives and friends diagnosed with cancer and diagnosed too late. To be able to offer a simple test for the early diagnoses is much needed in the UK and globally. 

Secondly, the team drives me to succeed –  it is so strong, passionate and committed to deliver a test that will transform patient outcomes. 

Thirdly, to really provide a value-based healthcare provision to change patient outcomes – saving money for healthcare providers like the NHS with no compromise on accuracy. Looking beyond the NHS to developing countries where they have no test at all whilst incidence continues to increase. 

CanSense Founder Adam Bryant

How far are you willing to go to see your idea become a success?

We are fully committed and passionate about achieving our shared goals and ambitions. It is clear that there is such a need for a simple yet accurate test for early detection of cancer at primary care (GP practices) – in my mind it also has to be affordable. We believe we have the solution but it isn’t an easy or quick route to market – with trials, regulations and finding the early adopters/payers to bring in early revenue. However, we have been fortunate that we have gained a lot of supporters, including Prof. Tom Crosby OBE – National Clinical Director for Wales, which fuels our ambitions. 

Thousands of bowel cancer deaths could be prevented every year through earlier diagnosis of this disease. This is a potentially game changing innovation in terms of population-based access to a cheap, convenient and acceptable test. CanSense’s innovative test will mean subjecting less patients to invasive endoscopic examinations. This is an important step in the development of precision medicine undertaking the right test for the right patient at the right time. This would allow us to reserve colonoscopies for patients most likely to benefit, and lower the age of testing and screening. 

Do you see this as UK centric or will you conquer the world by going global?

Bowel cancer is increasing in both the developed and developing countries and increasing within the young – creating a significant socio-economic burden.

SARS-COV-2 has clearly highlighted the need for simple, accurate and affordable diagnostics globally. 

Current methods of testing and screening are failing, effective testing within oncology is critical – now more than ever. 

CanSense-CRC label free method translates to an affordable solution for the wider global population, including those in developing countries. This greatly improves all patient outcomes whilst decreasing economic impact of premature mortality and lost productive life years which impacts greatly on societal infrastructure. An affordable solution to rebalance the current socioeconomic inequality around testing, promoting healthy lives for all.  

CanSense-CRC has applicability to developing countries where there is a significant increase of CRC incidence, e.g. India there is a significant population need for early diagnosis as the five-year survival of CRC is one of the worst in the world. This has a direct economic impact due to premature mortality and lost productive life years. 

Furthermore, CanSense has designed a value-based healthcare provision which has platform potential to scale into whole population multi-cancer screening.

Cancer is a global problem and we believe we have UK based solution for early detection which reduces mortality rates – we are not looking to conquer the world, rather help the world. 

Do you see yourself as an underdog?

There is undoubtably a real and renewed focus on healthcare and diagnostic testing. With that there has been an influx of investment into cancer diagnostics companies mainly in the US with some companies raising series A rounds greater than 100mm capital.

At times this can feel daunting. But what differentiates CanSense is its quick, simple and affordable technology, not reliant on complicated DNA based assays, with no compromise to test accuracy and directed to early disease diagnosis. It has designed a value-based healthcare provision for symptomatic patients and has platform potential to scale into whole population multi-cancer screening. 

CanSense is making high impact combining our passions; science, technology and medicine. Our company values are ingrained in thinking differently not being daunted by taking on one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime.  Focussed on delivering a scientifically rigorous test to provide early diagnosis of a lethal disease, providing better patient outcomes. Providing Real Value – helping to create a sustainable healthcare provision for all. 

What was it like taking part in the Super Connect for Good Competition? Have the super connections before and after helped you? 

The focus of the Super Connect for Good competition is something which CanSense is fully aligned with and so we were thrilled to be West regional winners and runners-up in the national competition. It’s been great publicity and we feel truly honoured to be able to present CanSense to a wider audience. The Empact team have been excellent in helping CanSense connect with other people & organisations that will undoubtably help us on our journey. It’s not always easy connecting with the right people who can help start-up companies, so having experts like Empact make that ‘warm’ introduction is really important. The connections will hopefully lead to longer term partnerships and collaborations, from NHS trusts through to venture capital investment.  

What has surprised you in your journey so far?

I have been surprised by the support and goodwill people have extended. After a Phd in Theoretical physics I went into investment banking which is not known for its soft and helpful approach so I have been caught out by the many people who have offered advice, help, support and the ability to connect us to the right people, like Empact Ventures. But others like the two start-up accelerator programs I have been on and won, oxford AHSN/BioCity and UoS and other organisations like the Life Science Hub Wales. 

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

In our academic clinical trials we have established a network of >35 primary care practices participating in clinical trials across the UK, with over >2000 patients participating. We have ongoing clinical academic led clinical trials that will eventually lead to CE marking and hopefully NICE approval for CanSense-CRC diagnostic. 

We have won some major competition like this one this year, but it is really special when the patients who have been involved in the trials provide us with messages which keep us strong and keep us going when it feels tough. 

Patient:  “The thought of having one blood test instead of having a most horrible experience of a colonoscopy is amazing.” 

Patient: “It has changed my life, to know to have a blood test which can prove very very quickly if the cancer has come back. This is incredible”

Patient “Being timely, if the blood test is normal – you can get on with your rest of your life!”

GP partner : “if a Raman blood test was available then I would do it, and I think you would find every GP would.”

And it is equally lovely to have the following great endorsement: 

“Thousands of bowel cancer deaths could be prevented every year through the earlier diagnosis of this disease. This is a potentially game-changing innovation in terms of population-based access to a cheap, convenient and acceptable test. An important step in the development of precision medicine.”

Prof Tom Crosby OBE, National Cancer Clinical Director for Wales 

What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?

Perhaps a little longer than 12mnths as is often the case with regulation around medical diagnostics, but the roadmap is set out below for the next 24months. 

There are four areas of focus in bringing a diagnostic to market; R&D, regulation, commercialisation and funding. The CanSense road map is working towards establishing a clinical accredited laboratory, development of the assay, protecting the IP, developing CE marked AI models in preparation for NICE approval ready for adoption. Outside expertise through consultants and brand ambassadors are adding valuable insight and detail to the high-level plan. Our route to market encompasses a focus on early adopter needs to generate early revenue: providing pharmaceutical companies an early stage companion diagnostic to accompany phase 2/3 clinical drug trials, for better patient acceptance and outcomes.

What was missing from your business plan?

We know the CanSense diagnostic technology has great IP. We also know a blood test for the early detection of bowel cancer detection is solving a real unmet need within the UK and globally. Also, through our academic trials we knew this test would have a real impact on patients lives. However, that sometimes feels like it is not enough you have to find and focus on the actual buyers. We were fortunate to tackle this early and have now spoken with well over 200 potential customers and now feel confident we have the right business plan in place. Not to mention the complex and changing regulatory environment we have to navigate. We are now trying to match our solid business plan with potential investors. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding innovators taking the same journey?

Stay strong! 

Bekki Barnes

With 5 years’ experience in marketing, Bekki has knowledge in both B2B and B2C marketing. Bekki has worked with a wide range of brands, including local and national organisations.

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