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NHS Rolls Out ‘Game Changer’ Pilot Blood Test For Detecting Over 50 Types of Cancer

CC0 / / DNA
DNA - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.09.2021
This June, Grail Inc., a biotechnology company, launched its Galleri blood test, designed to detect multiple cancers at an early stage from a single sample, for prescription use in the US.
England's National Health Service (NHS) is launching a pilot scheme for a blood test, developed by the US-based company Grail, that can detect 50 types of cancer at early stages, before symptoms appear, reported UK media.
"This quick and simple blood test could mark the beginning of a revolution in cancer detection and treatment here and around the world,” NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said in a statement cited by Sky News.
The Galleri test, developed by US biotechnology company Grail Inc. and already available in the US, examines DNA in blood to find out whether any of it comes from cancer cells. The test is touted as detecting cancers that are not routinely screened for, while also determining where the disease is coming from in the body.
"By finding cancer before signs and symptoms even appear, we have the best chance of treating it and we can give people the best possible chance of survival," added Pritchard.
The test zooms in on chemical changes in fragments of genetic code that leak from tumours into the blood. According to medical experts, in the case of some cancers this starts to occur a long time before symptoms manifest themselves. Pritchard said the test could help the NHS realise its ambition of catching up to 75 percent of cancers at an early stage so that treatment can be started sooner.
Research published in June in the journal Annals Of Oncology ran the test on 2,823 people with cancer and 1,254 people without the disease. It was found to correctly identify cancer in 51.5 percent of cases across all stages of the disease. The novel test, which has already been effective at identifying head and neck, bowel, lung, pancreatic, and throat cancers, which are more challenging to pinpoint early, nevertheless cannot detect all cancers.
Accordingly, it would not replace NHS screening programmes for breast, cervical, and bowel cancer. Cancer Research UK and King's College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit are collaborating with Grail in the trial. Professor Peter Sasieni, one of the trial's lead investigators, was cited as saying:
"The test could be a game-changer for early cancer detection and we are excited to be leading this important research. Cancer screening can find cancers earlier when they are more likely to be treated successfully, but not all types of screening work."
With the first results expected by 2023, a successful outcome might see the test available for prescription use from 2024.
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