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New blood test could be the ‘holy grail of cancer research’

03 June 2018

The "holy grail" of cancer treatment moved a step closer yesterday after a study showed that a simple blood test can spot several forms of the disease at an early stage.

For years researchers have been working to develop a quick and easy test that can detect cancer early and the idea of using blood samples to check for the disease has been gaining ground over the last few months, The American Cancer Society noted.

Professor Nicholas Turner, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, described the findings as ‘really exciting' and said that they could potentially be used for ‘universal screening'.

The test is called liquid biopsy and it's being hailed as the "holy grail of cancer research".

The research sampled 1,627 participants, of which 749 were cancer-free and 878 had various types of newly detected, untreated cancer.

Nonetheless, liquid biopsies could "dramatically reshape the way that care for cancer and other inherited diseases is delivered", says The Independent.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: "Our 100,000 genome project already makes England a world leader in applying the medical technologies of the future".

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"Far too many cancers are picked up too late, when it is no longer possible to operate and the chances of survival are slim", Prof. It was best at diagnosing pancreatic, ovarian, liver and gallbladder cancers, accurately pinpointing the diseases in at least four out of five patients.

"This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are now hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure", lead researcher Dr. Eric Klein of the Cleveland Clinic said, via Tech Times. So far, the test has specifically good results in detecting ovarian and pancreatic cancers.

"To match the promise of being able to screen for cancer, this test must be able to identify patients who do not have symptoms or signs of cancer". Lung cancer and cancers of the head and neck trailed behind, with 59 and 56 percent detection rates.

"This is a very promising study", said Dr. Kazuaki Takabe, the Alfiero Foundation endowed chair in breast oncology at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, who was not involved with the study.

More than 360,000 people in the United Kingdom are diagnosed with cancer each year, meaning that one person is told they have the disease every two minutes.

"When this test, or another like it, are ready for clinical use, it could be used as part of a universal screening program, with the potential to save many lives". "And, in this case applied to a high risk group to show how effective it would be in detecting cancer at its earliest stage".

New blood test could be the ‘holy grail of cancer research’