A blood test could detect the five most common types of cancer four years earlier than conventional methods.

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Early detection is important because the survival of cancer patients is significantly increased when the disease is identified at an early stage, since the tumor can be removed surgically or treated with appropriate medications.

Blood samples in a laboratory.
CHAMILA KARUNARATHNE EFE

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An international team of researchers has developed a non-invasive blood test that can detect if a person has one of the five common types of cancer, stomach, esophagus, colorectal, lung, and liver. four years before the condition can be diagnosed using current methods, as published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’.

Called ‘PanSeer’, the test dCancer was detected in 91% of samples from individuals who were asymptomatic. when samples were collected and diagnosed with cancer only one to four years later. In addition, the test accurately detected cancer in 88% of the samples from 113 patients who had already been diagnosed when the samples were collected. The test also recognized cancer-free samples 95% of the time.

The study is unique in that the researchers had access to blood samples from asymptomatic patients who had not yet been diagnosed. This allowed the team to develop a test that can find cancer markers much earlier than conventional diagnostic methods. The samples were collected as part of a 10-year longitudinal study started in 2007 by Fudan University in China.

“The ultimate goal will be to perform blood tests like this routinely during annual health check-ups -sela Kun Zhang, one of the corresponding authors of the article and professor and president of the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego-. But the immediate approach is to assess the people most at risk, based on family history, age, or other known risk factors. ”

Early detection is important because the survival of cancer patients increases significantly withhen the disease is identified in early stages, since the tumor can be removed surgically or treated with appropriate medications. However, there is only a limited number of early detection tests for some types of cancer.

Researchers from Fudan University and Singlera Genomics, a startup based in San Diego and Shanghai that is working to commercialize the evidence based on the advances originally made in Zhang’s bioengineering lab at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

The researchers emphasize that the ‘PanSeer’ trial is unlikely to predict which patients will develop cancer but that identifies patients who already have cancerous growths, but they remain asymptomatic for current detection methods. The team concludes that more large-scale longitudinal studies are needed to confirm the potential of the test for early detection of cancer in pre-diagnostic individuals.

Blood samples were collected as part of the Taizhou Longitudinal Study, which has collected plasma samples from more than 120,000 people between 2007 and 2017. Each individual gave samples of blood for a period of 10 years and underwent regular check-ups with doctors. In total, more than 1.6 million specimens have been collected and filed to date.

Once a person was diagnosed with cancer, the researchers had access to blood samples taken one to four years before that these patients began to show symptoms.

The team was able to examine samples from healthy and sick individuals from the same cohort. The authors performed an analysis on plasma samples obtained from 605 asymptomatic individuals, of whom 191 were subsequently diagnosed with cancer. They also profile plasma samples from an additional 223 diagnosed cancer patients, as well as 200 samples from primary tumor and normal tissue.

Zhang and his laboratory have been developing cancer-based methods for more than a decade based on a biological process called DNA methylation analysis. The method detects a particular DNA signature called CpG methylation, which is the addition of methyl groups to multiple adjacent CG sequences in a DNA molecule. Each tissue in the body can be identified by its unique signature of methylation haplotypes. They did an early-stage proof-of-concept study that was published in a 2017 article in ‘Nature Genetics’.

Zhang cofund Singlera Genomics, who licensed the technology he developed at UC San Diego. In recent years, she has been working to improve and eventually market cancer early detection tests, including the ‘PanSeer’ test. Now the company’s scientific advisor.

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