According to Helmy Eltoukhy, co-founder of Guardant Health, “cancer is a disease of the genome”, and as he thought “that’s the one area where our knowledge of advanced genomic sequencing would make a big difference”. Helmy Eltoukhy is one of those who are behind the new blood test, “blood biopsy”, which helps to diagnose cancer mutation. The test allows to establish cancer mutation without an invasive tissue biopsy, which by itself is a painful and unpleasant procedure. What’s more, biopsy cannot be done repeatedly in order to monitor the changes in a tumor DNA. The initial tissue biopsy is usually taken before the treatment begins, and the information received is then used to determine a treatment program. But “cancer is a disease of the genome”, which means it can change and adapt. Cancer mutations can be caused by a number of factors, such as environment, viruses or treatment itself. This is the reason why a safer and more accurate test was so needed. The Guardant Health’s new blood test is not only 99% accurate, as was proven by the study of 15 000 patients, but it is also much safer and less expensive than a tissue biopsy.
The new test allows doctors to monitor tumor DNA and adjust or change cancer treatment accordingly. Thanks to “blood biopsy” many people have found hope again. A patient with stage-four lung adenocarcinoma, a lung cancer, is one of them. Due to the tumor’s location, ordinary biopsy would have been complicated. Doctors had to collect tumour cells from the pleural fluids instead. While the tumor had initially decreased after his first treatment, the later test showed it grew again and was not responding to chemotherapy anymore. With the help of the new blood test, doctors could identify the mutation of the tumour and to start a targeted cancer therapy. Two days later the pain was gone, and in 8 weeks the tumour has decreased from 5 cm to 1 cm.
You can read the whole story on Wired