Saturday, July 2, 2016

15,000 results from Silicon Valley startup studied

Will new liquid biopsies replace painful, risky, invasive tumor tests? Perhaps, research says

Are painful, risky biopsies on the way out?


According to a recent story by Andrew Pollack in The New York Times, a new test known as a liquid biopsy can detect cancer mutations — with results that apparently agree, generally, "with those of an invasive tumor biopsy."

Conventional biopsies mean a needle or surgery extracts a piece of a tumor. But both those methods can lead to complications.

The liquid biopsies, the Times piece says, "take advantage of the fact that DNA fragments from tumors can be found in tiny amounts in the blood of patients with cancer."

Dr. Philip C. Mack
The story quotes researcher Philip C. Mack, Ph.D. director of molecular pharmacology at the U.C. Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, who presented his result at the annual meeting of 
the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The findings come from a study that looked at the results of more than 15,000 liquid biopsies performed by Guardant Health, a Silicon Valley startup, on people with breast, lung, colorectal and other cancers.

So far, the liquid test only monitors disease progression or detects the genetic mutations "that could suggest which drug should be used," according to The Times, and is not yet used to diagnose cancer.

And it isn't cheap — with a list price of $5,800.

Dozens of companies, The Times notes, "are now developing or offering liquid biopsies, and tissue biopsy companies are trying to defend their turf."

Cancer research is extensive. To learn more about it, check out "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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