Jan 11, 2016 12:20 AM EST
A United States medical company reveals that it is launching the "holy grail" of blood tests that can reportedly diagnose cancer even before patients have manifested its symptoms through liquid biopsy. Illumina, the gene sequencing company, unveiled a spinoff company named Grail that will particularly focus on utilising state-of-the-art technology to detect early signs of cancer.
With the help of its parent company, Grail has already acquired more than $100 million and enlisted outstanding advisors to begin and help with its venture. Citing that its success could be a total game changer, Dr. Jose Baselga, chief physician at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is the designated head of the advisory board of Grail. However, he admitted that this would be available before 2019, the target date Jay T. Flatley, Illumani's CEO, has set.
The new company aims to target the DNA of cancerous cells that are found in the blood. It will utilise DNA sequencing methods to detect patterns in its blood cells.
Although there have been other companies that use these "liquid biopsies," these have been used after patients have already been given cancer diagnosis. The problem that early cancer detection poses is the fact that some cancer cells do not actually pose threat to humans and giving them early treatment instead will only expose them to its hazardous side effects.
In response, Grail will address these issues by carrying out deep sequencing and testing its DNA sequencing on about 50,000 people. 'We have a sense of urgency to make it work and get it to the market because it will save millions of lives if it works the way we hope,' Mr. Flatley said. So far, cost of the this cutting-edge blood test will not exceed $1,000 to make it affordable even to the general public.