Detect Cancer With Just A Blood Test ? An Indian Lab’s Medical Breakthrough
- Highlight of the test is that it can provide personalised cancer treatment
- Liquid biopsy is a paradigm shift involving a minimally-invasive procedure
- India is expected to record 17.3 lakhs new cases of cancer by 2020
New Delhi: Imagine if you could do away with biopsies, radioactive tests and other invasive procedures and be able to detect cancer with just a simple blood examination. A test known as Liquid Biopsy test can now identify the tumor traces released in a cancer patient’s blood stream through a simple DNA blood test. Since it is a simple blood test, it is being touted as a cost-effective method for the early detection and diagnosis of cancer. It is also useful to keep monitoring the disease for any signs of remission post-surgery or other treatments.
The Liquid Biopsy test has been developed by Bengaluru-based Strand Life Sciences’ in collaboration with the Mazumdar Shaw Center for Translational Research (MSCTR), an organization that promotes research on affordable healthcare. The teams worked together to develop these advanced tests which were then validated by clinicians at the Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center (MSMC).
The test known as ‘STRAND LB’ will precisely indicate the presence of tumors, cancer recurrence and response to therapy at an early stage with minimal discomfort to the patient.
The liquid biopsy test is a paradigm shift from conventional diagnostic tools, as it involves a minimally-invasive procedure, no radioactive scans, and can detect tumor DNA traces from a simple blood draw, said Dr. Vijay Chandru, Chairman and Managing Director, Strand Life Sciences.
Generally, tumors are assessed through invasive tumor biopsies or through radioactive scans. It often becomes hard for these biopsies to detect tumors in internal organs or when the tumor is located deep within the body.
The highlight of the new test is that it can provide personalised cancer treatment by detecting the ‘genetic signature’ of a person’s cancer.
The technique helps to create personalised cancer treatment plans for each patient. It can also provide insights to assess if a patient is prone to a relapse and if a person is likely to respond to therapy or not, said, Dr Sharat Damodar, Heme-Oncologist & Clinical Director, Mazumdar Shaw Medical Centre.
The study was conducted on 125 patients with wide variety of cancer types – from lung, lung, colorectal, breast, and bladder cancer.
Our study on patients spanning a wide variety of cancer types – including lung, colorectal, breast, and bladder cancer – shows that STRAND LB can detect tumor DNA traces in as many as 35% of patients with early-stage cancer, going up to 70-90% in patients with locally advanced or metastatic cancer, said Dr. Vijay Chandru, Chairman and Managing Director, Strand Life Sciences.
What Next Post the Launch?
Oncologists from Strand Life Science will now engage with medical centers across India, to familiarize them with the Liquid biopsy test.
Other medical centres will use the test only after it has been validated in-house. The validation time frame may vary from private clinics to government owned ones.
We are working towards introducing the new test at All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS). Being a government owned institute, acquiring the necessary medical equipments along with the validation process may take a couple of years, said Dr. Sachin Kumar, Scientist at Institute-Rotary Cancer Hospital, AIIMS.
The new cancer detection test is available in the public domain at ₹20,000 and the optimum time to take the test is two weeks post any therapy has been administered to the patient.
As per a report by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India is expected to record 17.3 lakhs new cases of cancer and over 8.8 lakhs patients are likely to die from the disease by 2020. In light of these grim figures, this non-invasive Liquid Biopsy test could well be a remarkable breakthrough in the medical history of India that could help in early detection and intervention.