UK – Researchers develop highly sensitive blood test for cancer

Researchers have developed a new way of analysing cancer patients’ blood for evidence of the disease that could be up to ten times more sensitive than previous methods.

The new approach could drive the development of new tests able to more accurately determine the likelihood of disease relapse and even pinprick tests for home monitoring.

The research, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Science Translational Medicine, assessed a technique using personalised genetic testing of a patient’s tumour to search blood samples for hundreds of different genetic mutations in circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA).

Utilising new methods of analysing the data ‘to remove background noise and enhance the signal’, the team were able to reach a level of sensitivity that in some cases could find one mutant DNA molecule amongst a million pieces of DNA – around ten times more sensitive than previous methods…