The current atmosphere of cancer detection technology requires multiple tests that are invasive, uncomfortable, complicated, and generally unaffordable to the general public. This is why there is a prominence of creating better strategies where some scientists resort to blood testing due to its appeal as being less-invasive and simple compared to tests such as Colonoscopy (for colon cancer detection), CT scans, or Pap Smear.
While research on blood-focused cancer detection (such as Methylated SEPT9 or mSEPT9 in short for detecting Colorectal Cancer) already exists in the health industry, their uses and detection is only relevant for specific types of cancer leaving a gap in innovation for a single blood test that can detect multiple cancers.
Well, that future might be closer than you think.
An improved cancer detector
In the second week of 2024, A US Biotech company, Novelna, unveiled a Cancer Screening Test that promised to deliver accurate detection of 18 different cancers at their early stages. The test relied on blood tests that extracted proteins from the sample via plasma which they call a Multicancer Early Detection test (MCED).
The discovery and success of the technology were proven when 440 people who were already diagnosed with 18 cancers at their early stages were detected from the samples which were then measured of their protein levels using a Proximity Extension Assay Technology which enhances the accuracy of the test.
MCED focuses on gathering results via a sex-specific (Biological Male/Female) approach in analyzing 10 proteins from the plasma to gather more accuracy as well as specificity in detection. By using this method, early signs such as breast cancer which are more common in female patients will be easier to screen if present in the body reducing the possibility of a “false positive” result (incorrect diagnosis showing detection of cancer).
The beauty of the technology is also highlighted in the greater sensitivity for detecting stages I and II (80% of the time). This means that more asymptomatic patients may be detected earlier compared to standard tests (including blood-based tests such as mSEPT9). Aside from accuracy, its simplicity will also imply affordability as patients will not need multiple tests for cancer detection. Ultimately, this results in earlier intervention and greater chances of beating their disease/s.
Will it be Another Theranos?
Inevitably, there will be skepticism towards the technology because of the scandal caused by Theranos (Context: Theranos was a health company that promised to revolutionize the health industry through blood test detection technology from a prick on a finger claiming it can detect diseases from the sample. The claims were found to be false which led to major lawsuits with the company being dissolved since). But to answer the question of whether Novelna’s tech will follow in that footsteps, probably not. While the now-dissolved company has also relied on blood tests to detect diseases, the technology that is created by Novelna has been verified through peer review and has not yet been officially released to the public just yet for further improvement on the technology.
So the future of the cancer detection and intervention may be on to greater heights anytime soon.