A cancer-screening blood test which is a less invasive method of detecting cancer will be available soon.
DNA sequencing company, Illumina Inc, created a new company whose sole purpose is to do research and develop the said cancer-screening blood test.
The company, Grail, aims to develop a universal blood test to identify early-stage cancers in people with no symptoms of the disease, Reuters wrote.
The Grail’s test will use Illumina’s DNA sequencing technology to probe for bits of cancer genes circulating in the bloodstream even though the person do not manifest any symptom yet. This means instead of invasive conventional biopsies, a person only needs to provide a blood sample in order to know if he has cancer.
Grail garnered more than $100 million in funding from Illumina and its partners including tech billionaires Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Illumina Chief Executive Officer Jay Flatley said: “This is a massive market. Depending on your assumptions, it’s somewhere between a $20 billion and $200 billion market opportunity.”
According to Reuters, financial service Cowen & Co estimated that the use of DNA blood test for cancer screening will exceed $10 billion a year by the end of the decade.
There are several companies who are already developing liquid biopsies, mostly for use with patients who were already diagnosed with cancer. But Flatly said Grail differs from other tests on the market since it seeks to deter cancer in healthy, undiagnosed individuals.
Meanwhile, Grail will also conduct clinical trials to provide sufficient evidence in making blood tests as the new standard in cancer screening. Flatly said trials for the new procedure had already started 18 months ago but they still need an additional year to refine the test.
Flatly said Illumina aims to have the cancer-screening blood test available in 2019. He added that they are also hoping that cost of DNA sequencing will drop, enough to price the cancer screening test to around $500 each.