2024 Project Achievement Award Recipient

This award is presented to an engineering or geoscience project that contributes new technologies, processes, or innovations for the improvement of society. 

Syantra DX™ Breast Cancer Detection Technology

Syantra DX™ Breast Cancer Detection Technology

A biomedical engineering breakthrough by Syantra Inc., a University of Calgary spinoff company, promises to revolutionize women’s health care and save lives through the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

With a simple blood test, the Syantra DX™ Breast Cancer screening technology can quickly and accurately detect the presence of breast cancer before symptoms even arise. This precision diagnostic tool—developed by a team of engineers, technologists, and clinicians—uses proprietary custom software to measure 12 unique RNA biomarkers from whole blood. Artificial intelligence algorithms in the software interpret the data and provide a positive or negative result. Clinical trials in Calgary, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Korea show the test has an overall accuracy of 92 per cent, and a 98.5 per cent accuracy in women under 50.

The idea for Syantra DX™ was sparked more than a decade ago at Dr. Kristina Rinker’s research lab at the Schulich School of Engineering. It’s the result of regional and global collaborations, scientific discovery, and a relentless determination to transform health outcomes for women by changing the standard of care.

Syantra DX™ is approved for use in Canada, Europe, and the United States. Taking the technology from concept to commercialization was an enormous task achieved with the support of many government, industry, and health-care partners. “You need to have persistence, but if you keep pushing past barriers, make a plan, and don’t give up, you can realize your goals,” says Dr. Rinker.

She hopes the test will be used to help more women identify breast cancer at its earliest stages when it is most treatable. Women at greatest need are those with dense breast tissue, making cancer harder to detect, and women under 50, who are more likely to develop aggressive forms of breast cancer but are not typically screened for the disease.

Syantra’s long-term vision is to become a global provider of blood screening tests for other invasive diseases, including ovarian, pancreatic, and blood cancers. Adds Dr. Rinker, “I’m inspired by the possibilities to advance health and motivated by the challenges in bringing health technologies to the market.”

Key contributors to the project include, in alphabetical order:

  • Dr. Kenneth Fuh, MLT
  • Dr. Randy Moore, MD
  • Dr. Kristina Rinker, P.Eng.
  • Robert Shepherd