Menu

Liquid Biopsy Test May Help Screen Eight Types of Cancer

The new diagnostic works by identifying cancer-associated proteins and DNA in patient blood.

Jan 22, 2018
Jim Daley

ISTOCK, BET_NOIRE

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a blood test that that can detect signs of eight different types of cancer, according to preliminary trial results published last week (January 18) in Science.

The new diagnostic, dubbed CancerSEEK, is one of many liquid biopsies that have sprung up in recent years. It works by screening patients’ blood for the presence of eight protein biomarkers and mutations in 16 genes.

The team found that the test successfully detected cancer in about 70 percent of 1,005 patients with non-metastasized tumors in the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colorectum, lung, or breast. The test’s sensitivity ranged from 33 percent for breast cancer to 98 percent for ovarian cancer. Around 63 percent of the time, the test could even identify where in the body the disease had taken hold. Each test would cost less than $500 to administer, study coauthor Nickolas Papadopoulos, an oncologist at Hopkins, tells the Los Angeles Times.

“They end up with performance that is similar to other approaches, but with what looks to be a much more cost-effective approach,” Nitzan Rosenfeld, a cancer researcher at the University of Cambridge who was not involved in the work, tells Nature.

Seven of the 812 tests in healthy control subjects returned false positive results, however. Because the proteins that the test detects may also be present in the bloodstreams of healthy individuals with inflammatory diseases unrelated to cancer, false positives may be higher in the general population, Catherine Alix-Panabières, a cancer researcher at the University of Montpellier in France who was not involved in the study, tells Nature.  

Despite that concern, the researchers say they think CancerSEEK is ready for testing as a screening tool. “A test does not have to be perfect to be useful,” Papadopoulos tells Science. A study to validate CancerSEEK in more than 10,000 healthy individuals has already begun, and researchers will follow up with participants in five years.

While many researchers have expressed enthusiasm about the potential of liquid biopsy in cancer detection, others have warned of the technique’s pitfalls. Last December, another team at Hopkins reported in JAMA Oncology that two different biopsies gave conflicting results for the same patient. The results were “so alarming that we decided . . . to warn other oncologists,” study coauthor Gonzalo Torga, a postdoctoral fellow at Hopkins, told STAT

See “Direct-to-Consumer Liquid Biopsy

January 2019

Cannabis on Board

Research suggests ill effects of cannabinoids in the womb

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

WIN a VIAFLO 96/384 to supercharge your microplate pipetting!
WIN a VIAFLO 96/384 to supercharge your microplate pipetting!
INTEGRA Biosciences is offering labs the chance to win a VIAFLO 96/384 pipette. Designed to simplify plate replication, plate reformatting or reservoir-to-plate transfers, the VIAFLO 96/384 allows labs without the space or budget for an expensive pipetting robot to increase the speed and throughput of routine tasks.
FORMULATRIX® digital PCR technology to be acquired by QIAGEN
FORMULATRIX® digital PCR technology to be acquired by QIAGEN
FORMULATRIX has announced that their digital PCR assets, including the CONSTELLATION® series of instruments, is being acquired by QIAGEN N.V. (NYSE: QGEN, Frankfurt Stock Exchange: QIA) for up to $260 million ($125 million upfront payment and $135 million of milestones).  QIAGEN has announced plans for a global launch in 2020 of a new series of digital PCR platforms that utilize the advanced dPCR technology developed by FORMULATRIX combined with QIAGEN’s expertise in assay development and automation.
Application of CRISPR/Cas to the Generation of Genetically Engineered Mice
Application of CRISPR/Cas to the Generation of Genetically Engineered Mice
With this application note from Taconic, learn about the power that the CRISPR/Cas system has to revolutionize the field of custom mouse model generation!
Translational Models of Obesity, Dysmetabolism, Diabetes, and Complications
Translational Models of Obesity, Dysmetabolism, Diabetes, and Complications
This webinar, from Crown Bioscience, presents a unique continuum of translational dysmetabolic platforms that more closely mimic human disease. Learn about using next-generation rodent and spontaneously diabetic non-human primate models to accurately model human-relevant disease progression and complications related to obesity and diabetes here!