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Researchers develop new blood test which could detect different forms of cancer

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Researchers develop new blood test which could detect different forms of cancer

A new blood test developed by researchers has shown ability to screen for numerous types of cancer with a high degree of accuracy, a trial of the test shows.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators will present the results of the multi-centre trial during a session today (Saturday) at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2019 Congress.

The test, developed by GRAIL, Inc., uses next-generation sequencing technology to probe DNA for tiny chemical tags (methylation) that influence whether genes are active or inactive.

When applied to nearly 3,600 blood samples – some from patients with cancer, some from people who had not been diagnosed with cancer at the time of the blood draw – the test successfully picked up a cancer signal from the cancer patient samples, and correctly identified the tissue from where the cancer began (the tissue of origin).

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According to reports, the new test looks for DNA, which cancer cells shed into the bloodstream when they die.

In contrast to “liquid biopsies,” which detect genetic mutations or other cancer-related alterations in DNA, the technology focuses on modifications to DNA known as methyl groups.

“Our previous work indicated that methylation-based assays outperform traditional DNA-sequencing approaches to detecting multiple forms of cancer in blood samples,” said the study’s lead author, Geoffrey Oxnard, MD, of Dana-Farber. “The results of the new study demonstrate that such assays are a feasible way of screening people for cancer.”

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