SEEK, and ye shall find multiple types of cancer


Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have taken a step towards developing a universal blood test for cancer.

"The success rate of therapeutics and surgeries is going to be much, much higher, we believe, if the cancer is found very early, before symptoms", said Dr. Nickolas Papadopoulos, professor of oncology and pathology at Johns Hopkins Medicine and senior author of the study.

This has resulted in the early detection of an array of different cancers including breast, lung, bowel, oesophageal, pancreatic, stomach, liver and ovarian cancers.

"For the first time, we have the promise of a screening test that will lead to earlier diagnosis and improved survival outcomes for many tumour types that are major contributors to cancer deaths in our community". Another issue with liquid biopsies is the ability to identify the underlying tissue of origin.

For the study, the team gathered 1,005 participants newly diagnosed with these eight cancers.

USA and Aussie researchers say their "liquid biopsy", dubbed CancerSEEK, will be a game changer in the fight against cancer, and hope it could be widely available within a few years.

The investigators initially explored several hundred genes and 40 protein markers, whittling the number down to segments of 16 genes and eight proteins.

"This is just a case-control contemplate, and consequently needs facilitate assessment in extensive partners more illustrative of (the) overall public", said Thorat, who was not associated with the investigation.

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The scientists optimized the panel by working to the concept of diminishing returns. The study report appears in the latest issue of the journal Science and gives hope for early detection of these deadly diseases when it could still be treated more effectively. "So the test will even now miss a vast extent of growths at the phase where we need to analyze them", he said. The result was a relatively small 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. It did less well at the very earliest stage.

The ultimate aim of this endeavor is to find and detect the cancer in persons who have not been diagnosed already.

A $500 blood test could soon be used to detect up to eight kinds of tumors before they have a chance to spread to other parts of the body.

A new cancer blood test worked better for some types than others, and caught only 43% of stage 1 cancers.

The researchers also wanted to be able to use the test results to predict the site of a tumor. The most interesting thing about the revolutionary blood test is that it can detect cancer even before the symptoms arise. Hopkins and Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania have started a study of it in 10,000 Geisinger patients who will be tracked for at least five years.

The team said the test, known as CancerSEEK, was successful 70 per cent of the time.