Menu

Direct-to-Consumer Liquid Biopsy

Some doctors advise shoppers to be skeptical of a newly marketed cancer diagnostic.

Sep 13, 2015
Kerry Grens

PIXABAY, GERALTFor $699, consumers can send a blood sample to San Diego-based Pathway Genomics, which will scan cell-free DNA for mutations associated with various cancer types and return results in a few weeks. The test is designed to catch cancer before patients have symptoms. While no one is arguing the worthiness of such a goal, experts have noted that the reliability of these tests is anything but.

“I am very reticent to believe a privately funded personal genomics company’s claims when there is no peer-reviewed data to support their tests or technical approaches,” Isaac Garcia-Murillas, an oncologist at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, told The Verge.

The control samples used to build the assay came from patients already diagnosed with cancer. “Detecting cancers in the blood of patients who are known to have cancer is decidedly not the same as detecting cancer mutations in people who haven’t yet been diagnosed,” The Verge reported.

Consumers interested in the test will have to work through their physician, or a doctor the company recommends. The company’s test is marketed toward people with a known cancer risk, such as a those with a close relative who has had the disease.

Another product offered by Pathway Genomics screens for circulating tumor DNA in patients who already have cancer. “Rising levels of tumor DNA may indicate progression of the cancer before there is clinical or imaging evidence of tumor growth,” Glenn Braunstein, the company’s chief medical officer, said in a press release. “Our liquid biopsy tests may also detect new mutations that occur over time and signal that the patient is becoming resistant to current therapy.”

Braunstein told Bloomberg News the company plans to submit its data for peer review.

Marleen Meyers, an assistant professor of medical oncology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, would like to know: “Does this translate into improved survival?” she told Bloomberg News. “If you’re doing this monitoring every month and you see something a little bit different, should you do something?”

For now, at least according to MIT Technology Review, consumers should not shell out for the test. While liquid biopsies may one day be a boon for early detection, they’re premature. “That’s why Pathway’s test is such a big deal, and possibly such a big problem,” Tech Review noted. “Technically, it’s definitely possible to detect cancer DNA from a blood draw. But the hard work of knowing whether it’s good medicine hasn’t been done.”

February 2019

Big Storms Brewing

Can forests weather more major hurricanes?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Bio-Rad Releases First FDA-Cleared Digital PCR System and Test for Monitoring Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Response
Bio-Rad Releases First FDA-Cleared Digital PCR System and Test for Monitoring Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Response
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced that its QXDx AutoDG ddPCR System, which uses Bio-Rad’s Droplet Digital PCR technology, and the QXDx BCR-ABL %IS Kit are the industry’s first digital PCR products to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance. Used together, Bio-Rad’s system and kit can precisely and reproducibly monitor molecular response to treatment in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb) today showcases new automation features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer during the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening 2019 International Conference and Exhibition (SLAS) in Washington, D.C., February 2–6. These capabilities enable the ZE5 to be used for high-throughput flow cytometry in biomarker discovery and phenotypic screening.
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Researchers to benefit from an innovative software-connected pipetting system, bringing improved reproducibility and traceability of experiments to life-science laboratories.
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) will showcase advanced 3D cell culture technologies and workflow solutions for spheroids, organoids, tissue models, and applications including ADME/toxicology at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference, Feb. 2-6 in Washington, D.C.