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    • More good news from entrepreneurs in biotech.

      "Could a blood test detect cancer in healthy people? Grail, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, has raised $1.6 billion in venture capital to prove the answer is yes. And at the world’s largest meeting of cancer doctors, the company is unveiling data that seem designed to assuage the concerns and fears of its doubters and critics. But outside experts emphasize there is still a long way to go.

      The data, from a pilot study that Grail is using to develop its diagnostic before running it through the gantlet of two much larger clinical trials, are being presented Saturday in several poster sessions at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The data show that the company’s test can detect cancer in the blood with relatively few false positives and that it is fairly accurate at identifying where in the body the tumor was found. Another abstract seems to show that the test is more likely to identify tumors if they are more deadly. One big worry with a cancer blood test is that it would lead to large numbers of patients being diagnosed with mild tumors that would be better off untreated."

      The results are very encouraging. They were able not only to detect cancers (especially later-stage cancers which are more serious) but also to figure out the tissue of origin. That is extremely useful in determining how to treat the cancer.

    • The one thing which raises a red flag for me is that the article doesn't make it clear what type(s) of cancer it detects from blood (is it all cancers?) or whether they mean blood cancers. If it is the former, I tend to be a wee bit skeptical as while the advance is good and moves treatment of disease forward, it is never as big a leap as media makes it out to be (see tabloid reporting on the holy grail of cancer treatment being found, when in fact it is just in vitro studies on one cell line of one specific cancer treatment).

    • I think it was detecting three important cancers....

      "....the test identified 59% of early-stage lung cancers, 74% of colorectal cancers, and 78% of pancreatic cancers. The test got better when later-stage cancers were included: identifying location for 92% of lung cancers, 97% of colorectal cancers, and 79% of pancreatic cancers."

      Without reading the scientific paper itself I am not sure about any of the other details or possible cancers.