Many innovative blood tests for cancer detection are in clinical trials. According to experts, these tests have the potential to identify a wide range of tumours early and more easily than existing tests. They claim that early detection may save lives and prevent patients from undergoing more costly and invasive examinations.
Medically reviewed by Dr K on 7th June 2022.
Skip to Your Favourite Part:
New Blood Test Invention Will Help Early Cancer Diagnosis
The excitement in the cancer research community over the development of blood tests to identify cancer has reached a fever pitch.
Historically, blood tests, sometimes known as liquid biopsies, were ineffective in detecting cancer.
However, due to years of study, many blood tests that might identify cancer are on their way to being widely accessible to the public.
While experts believe that further human clinical studies are required to advance this technology, the science has shown to be solid thus far.
And the potential for these tests is enormous, with early diagnosis potentially saving countless lives.
The following are some of the firms and the current state of their blood tests.
StageZero Life Sciences
For more than a decade, James Howard-Tripp, chairman and CEO of StageZero Life Sciences, has been researching the ability of blood samples to identify cancer.
He claimed that his company, which uses modern mRNA gene expression technology, created the first clinically tested blood diagnostic for colorectal cancer.
Howard-Tripp told Healthline, the exam was originally administered to approximately 10,000 participants in North American research. It was then approved by New York state authorities. It has already been used on over 100,000 individuals throughout the country.
This research resulted in Aristotle, a test meant to identify numerous cancers from a single blood sample.
According to Howard-Tripp, the liquid biopsy sector has advanced to the point where mRNA gene expression patterns collected from a complete blood sample may signal the existence of certain tumours and be utilised before tissue biopsies.
“A significant advantage of this mRNA approach is that it can detect cancer early in the development stages and potentially stage cancer,” he tells Healthline.
Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Diagnostics
Dr Eric Klein, chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, has been at the forefront of liquid biopsy, as he told Healthline.
He also specialises in cancer biomarker research, which is the study of particular anomalies in tumour DNA and levels of certain proteins found in tumours.
Klein is the primary researcher of multi-centre research called IsoPSA, a Cleveland Diagnostics blood test that may diagnose early stages of prostate cancer by detecting cancer-related changes in a key protein.
“We could see these blood tests as adjuncts to current cancer screening methods, and there is the potential that these tests will replace standard screening tests,” Klein told Healthline.
According to Arnon Chait, PhD, CEO of Cleveland Diagnostics, the IsoPSA test has a sensitivity of 90% for high-grade prostate cancer and a specificity of 47%, compared to 21% for the standard of care PSA and 14% for percent-free PSA.
According to the clinical data, IsoPSA resulted in a 56% drop in cancer biopsy recommendations and an 18% reduction in MRI recommendations.
“This increased accuracy not only promotes cost savings but can also prevent unnecessary, painful procedures for patients while detecting more high-grade cancers,” Chait told Healthline.
The PanSeer Test
An international team of researchers revealed last year the invention of a test that can detect five distinct types of cancer up to four years sooner than present cancer screenings.
The PanSeer test found cancer in 91 percent of samples from individuals who had no symptoms at the time the samples were obtained.
One to four years later, they were diagnosed with cancer.
The test revealed stomach, oesophageal, colorectal, lung, and liver cancers.
“The ultimate goal would be performing blood tests like this routinely during annual health checkups,” Kun Zhang, PhD, one of the paper’s authors and professor and head of the department of bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, in a statement last year, told Healthline.
“But the immediate focus is to test people at higher risk, based on family history, age or other known risk factors,” he added.
Last year, the journal Science published a study of 10,000 healthy older women that used a liquid biopsy to check for DNA and proteins from several types of cancer.
CancerSEEK is a test developed by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and licenced by the startup business Thrive.
It identified 26 tumours that had previously gone undetected by standard tests.
CancerSEEK discovered Rosemary Jemo’s stage 1 ovarian cancer. She made the decision to undergo surgery.
“I never thought I would be the one,” Jemo told Healthline. “I have had no side effects from the surgery and am back to doing everything I did before.”
The ability of liquid biopsies to identify many more cancers at earlier stages, Kevin T. Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences told Healthline, which acquired and merged with Thrive, has the potential to “turn the tide on what a cancer diagnosis means.”
But, he said, “We must continue our work to ensure future clinical trials and focus on making this the standard of care.”
The CancerSEEK test had more than 100 false positives, which is a source of worry.
“Multi-cancer earlier detection tests must have a very high specificity of 99 percent or better, meaning a much lower false-positive rate than the standard of care single-organ tests like mammograms,” Conroy said.
Given the low risk of cancer in an asymptomatic population, he believes “the false alarms need to be minimized.”
Conroy noted that a positive CancerSEEK test is followed by a diagnostic PET-CT scan to confirm and pinpoint the presence of cancer and reduce the client’s anxiety.
Meanwhile, GRAIL, one of the industry’s leaders, is expanding its reach.
The National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom (UK) launched the world’s biggest study of GRAIL’s Galleri, a blood test that can identify more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms occur, last week.
To determine how well the test works, the NHS intends to recruit 140,000 volunteers in England.
“It is exciting that other companies recognize the potential of multi-cancer early detection, as changing the paradigm will require great science and great companies,” Dr. Joshua J. Ofman, GRAIL’s chief medical officer and head of external affairs, told Healthline.
“The progress in the sector is encouraging, but there is urgency because most cancers are still detected too late, and more than 600,000 Americans will die from cancer this year alone,” he said.