The CancerSEEK test measures circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) from 16 genes and eight protein biomarkers, then uses machine-based learning to analyse the data.
A new blood test that can detect eight common types of cancer in the early stages will help reduce the need for invasive screening procedures. The assay detects a 16 typical mutations as well as eight cancer proteins which together point to eight solid tumour types (cancers of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung or breast) causing 60% of all USA cancer deaths.
This proof-of-concept study is important because it proves the feasibility of developing a fairly non-invasive and potentially cheap test in blood. A blood test for prostate cancer is already widely used - the PSA test - but its value for screening is controversial. Another issue with liquid biopsies is the ability to identify the underlying tissue of origin. And it is exciting because it confirms the usefulness of simultaneously looking for a combination of different molecules - such as DNA, RNA, proteins or metabolites - that are complementary and increase the likelihood of detecting cancer. It is welcome news for health professionals and doctors, who have long suggested that early detection is the key when beating cancer.
It was able to detect the presence of cancer in 70% of patients on average.
The scientists optimized the panel by working to the concept of diminishing returns. "This may mean that a screening program has to test a very large number of individuals to detect one cancer". The result was a "small but robust" panel of highly selective DNA markers.
The researchers have moved forward with a follow-up, five-year study to further evaluate the blood test, Papadopoulos said in a teleconference with reporters on Friday.
That's useful because early-stage cancer that hasn't spread can often be cured.
The success rates ranged from an impressive 98 percent in case of ovarian tumors to only 33 percent in people with breast tumors.
Professor Gibbs said with the progress of the technology and with more people partaking of the test, they expected the cost to come down over time.
Dr Gert Attard, team leader in the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said CancerSEEK had great potential. The types of tumors included in this test account for about 60 percent of the deaths from cancer in the United States, according to the paper. The specificity of CancerSEEK was 99%: only 7 of 812 healthy controls scored positive.
Development of the "liquid biopsy" test is still in its early stages. "The more DNA bases you assay, the more mutations you are capable of finding, but eventually you reach a point of diminishing returns", explains Cohen.
In a major breakthrough, scientists have devised a blood test that can detect eight of the most common types of cancer.