New blood test detects dozens of cancers a year before a tumor appears
After a successful trial in cancer patients, a new blood test that promises to predict cancer more than a year before a tumor starts to form is now being used in hospitals across the UK. New York Post.
“This is the first blood test for cancer,” said Ashish Tripathi, founder and CEO of Tzar Labs and chairman of Epigeneres Biotech, the Indian firm where the test was first developed in 2021. An updated report on their findings is published this month in the journal Stem Cells.
“We can detect cancer earlier than other known technologies… before the tumor has physically formed,” Tripathi continued during an interview with author and medical advocate Deepak Chopra.
“Not only can I detect it at this stage — I can tell you what kind of cancer and where it is forming, right from the blood test,” he said.
In a trial with 1000 participants — 500 non-cancers and 500 cancer patients — the researchers were able to accurately predict tumor formation in at least 25 types of cancer, including all of the most common and deadly varieties such as breast, pancreatic, lung and colorectal cancers. It was found that even some participants from the supposed "non-cancer" group had a predisposition to cancer in the future.
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“We didn’t get one false negative, not one false positive,” Tripathi said.
Hospitals in the UK have already begun rolling out the new technique to further prove the concept, and researchers hope to bring it to the United States soon.
Dr Sheriff Rauf, a gastrointestinal cancer specialist who will conduct the study at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, said: "Detecting cancer at its earliest stage is the holy grail of cancer medicine."
“Usually this is not an easy process. Many patients are currently undergoing scans, biopsies and clinic visits. Having one blood test to detect the presence of cancer at its earliest stage - or even before it develops - can save many lives. It could be a game changer,” he said.
Despite the many blood-based cancer screening methods that have recently been developed, Tripathi's team's approach differs in that it focuses on stem cells with a cancer biomarker rather than looking for full-fledged tumor cells that may already be present. This allows them to determine if cancer is on the horizon, long before those cells develop into a tumor.
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All cells, good or bad, start out as stem cells, and those that continue to form tumors have genetic markers that encourage them to do so.
It takes 1 billion cancer cells to form a tumor that is only 1 cubic centimeter in size - a very small mass that cannot be detected even with CT scanners. But inside the body, this initial tumor sheds cancer cells as it grows, which enter the bloodstream and begin to seed new tumors or metastasize to various other organs.
Most of the previously developed blood tests for cancer diagnosis were made to detect full-fledged tumor cells traveling through the blood. The method is prone to false negatives because not every blood sample has these specific cells, Tripathi said.
“This is the breakthrough we have made: every liquid biopsy company has looked for tumor cell fragments in peripheral blood,” Tripathi explained. Unfortunately, "very few" tumor cells circulate in the early stages of cancer.
And in stages 3 or 4, when cancer cells have proliferated throughout the bloodstream to the extent that they can be detected by conventional means, it is often too late for treatment.
The new "predictive" test not only detects cancer at stage 1 or 2, but also tells whether a patient's stem cells are destined to become cancerous long before the first stage - up to 18 months. This gives doctors a huge advantage in terms of targeted treatment to prevent tumor formation.
This is good news for those who have already been diagnosed with cancer. While a traditional tissue biopsy can help determine if a tumor is metastatic, a new blood test can tell exactly which organ(s) potential tumor cells will target, non-invasively and long before the first tumor has accumulated.
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“Recent studies in the US show that once you take a biopsy, you accelerate the activity of the tumor,” said Tripathi. Their blood test can be done over and over again without harm. For this reason, this revolutionary screening can also be used to track the success of cancer treatments.
“The body is ready to tell you if the drug is working or not within 15 days. There are no diagnostic tools available that can actually measure this every 15 days because you can't re-biopsy a patient," Tripathi said.
Tripathi has high hopes for the new approach. “What we want is a world where we all take this test once a year. And we will either catch cancer at stage 1, or earlier - when it is infinitely more curable.
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