Grail’s liquid biopsy test shows high sensitivity in early cancer detection

The company plans to present early data in a poster on Saturday showing no more than 1 percent of tests generated false-positive results across 12 solid tumor and blood cancers.

A company developing liquid biopsy technology for the early detection of cancers has new data that it is presenting Saturday at a major cancer conference.

Menlo Park, California-based Grail said it will have a poster presentation of early data from its Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas study at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2019 conference, which kicked off Friday in at McCormick Place in Chicago. Grail said the data demonstrate the test’s ability to detect early-stage cancer with a single blood test and detected what it called strong signals for 12 cancers with a 99 percent specificity rate, meaning no more than 1 percent of tests generated false positives.

presented by

The early-stage cancers – meaning stages I-III – included anorectal, colorectal, esophageal, head and neck, hormone receptor-negative breast, liver, lung, ovarian and pancreatic, as well as some blood cancers, namely multiple myeloma and lymphoid neoplasms. Detection rates ranged from 59 percent to 86 percent.

According to an abstract for the presentation, the study has collected 2,508 samples from patients, including 580 with no cancer diagnosis, 984 with newly diagnosed but untreated cancers and a test set of 944 patients. The total enrollment target was set at 15,000, according to Grail’s cancer test received Breakthrough Device Designation from the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month.

Another firm developing liquid biopsy for early detection of cancers is is Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Thrive, which launched Thursday with a $110 million Series A funding round led by Third Rock Ventures. Thrive is developing a liquid biopsy test developed at Johns Hopkins University and is running a fully enrolled study of more than 10,000 patients. Additionally, Guardant Health is developing a liquid biopsy test for genomic sequencing of tumors in patients with metastatic disease.

Results of a study announced last month showed that Guardant Health’s Guardant360 test was better than traditional tissue biopsy at detecting mutations in cancer cells that can be targeted by drugs.

Photo: jxfzsy, Getty Images