A study that included genetic information from 15,000 patients across 50 tumor types confirmed the accuracy of so-called liquid biopsies for diagnostic and tumor-tracking purposes.
The study, one of the largest genomic studies to date, was conducted by Guardant Health, using their proprietary test, Guardant360. Guardant Health is one of numerous companies in the burgeoning field of liquid biopsies.
- Two-thirds of the results from the blood tests involved mutations that could be targeted with available drugs.
The liquid biospy approach as a way to accurately genomically characterize a tumor was tested by comparing the results of those tests with tissue-based biopsies.
However, Philip Mack, director of molecular pharmacology at the University of California at Davis' Comprehensive Cancer Center, told The Washington Post that he is confident traditional biopsy testing will remain the gold standard. A biopsy allows a pathologist to determine the type of tumor based on appearance of the cells, including where the tumor originated from.
The advantage seen with liquid biopsies is that they are easier to use to detect mutations that occur when a tumor is resistant to therapy.
Other companies involved in this space including Foundation Medicine and Grail. Roche is also a major player, since receiving approval last week for a test that can test that can detect the presence of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
And in Sweden, Immunovia is at work on a liquid biopsy, known as IMMray. Immunovia’s core diagnostic platform, IMMray, creates a biological snapshot of an individual’s immune response based on the presence of specific proteins associated with certain types of cancer. Unlike previous efforts to develop serum-based cancer diagnostics, IMMray has proven effective at producing highly sensitive and specific results.