Clinical Trials of Blood Test Detects over 50 Types of Early-Stage Cancer

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Detecting more than 50 of the most common cancers in advance could be as simple as a single blood test. The test was rolled out in the US in March, and now the UK will begin the world’s largest clinical trials of the test ever.

Revolutionary cancer blood test to receive biggest randomized trial

The largest randomized clinical trials ever of a revolutionary new cancer blood test are set to begin in the United Kingdom. The claims to have the ability to detect more than 50 types of early-stage cancer in a single blood sample.

Back in March, several health systems in the United States began offering a new type of blood test with the ability to detect over 50 types of cancer in a single blood draw. If proven to be accurate, the blood test, called Galleri, could revolutionize cancer screening, allowing early detection and potentially leading to reductions in the toll cancer has taken across the world.

On Monday, Britain’s state-run National Health Service (NHS) will recruit 140,000 volunteers to conduct a randomized controlled trial in which half of the participants will have their blood sampled screened immediately with the Galleri test, Reuters reported. The test will be the world’s largest thus far.

The aim is to see if the test can significantly reduce the number of cancers diagnosed at a late stage. Researchers believe, if effective, the test could be a game-changer for early cancer detection.

What led to the discovery and development of the test?

Seven years ago, at a DNA sequencing company in San Diego called Illumina, scientists were involved in a study that was examining DNA fragments in the blood of pregnant women looking for any evidence of chromosomal abnormalities, Healthline reported.

As happens so often in research, a pathologist discovered something unexpected in 10 of the blood samples. Instead of chromosomal disorders, there were DNA abnormalities. This led to a suspicion that cancer was involved. Upon further investigation, the researchers discovered that one of the 10 participants had received a cancer diagnosis, and others in that subset also had cancer – despite no symptoms.

This led researchers to develop a new blood test that can detect early stages of cancer before a person displays symptoms.

The test was so impressive that Illumina has been joined by a number of partners including the pharmaceutical companies Amgen, AstraZeneca, and Bristol Myers Squibb. Illumina recently completed a $7.1 billion re-acquisition of Grail, the technology company behind the test.