Novel Blood Test May Provide More Personalized Treatments for Lung Cancer Patients

Blood test quickly and accurately identifies genetic mutations linked to non-small cell lung cancer.

A new blood test can more accurately identify genetic mutations associated with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which could lead to more personalized cancer treatment.

The novel test uses a highly sensitive method for gene mutation detection that is based on the partitioning of DNA into droplets to detect specific circulating tumor DNA mutations and RNA variants in whole blood.

In a study published in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, investigators used more than 1600 samples that were mostly obtained from patients under the care of community physicians.

The results of the study showed of the samples tested, 10.5% had EGFR sensitizing, 18.8% EGFR resistance, 13.2% KRAS, and 2% EML4-anaplastic lymphoma kinase mutations.

The test detected high sensitivity at >80% and 100% specificity for detecting each type of mutation. Mostly, the blood tests and tissue biopsies yielded the same results, according to the study.

Additionally, the test performed at a faster pace, with 94% of results available within 72 hours of blood drawn. Whereas, results from tissue-based testing can take weeks and only delays treatment.

“This study is critical because it is the first to demonstrate the uptake of blood-based testing for actionable mutations in the non-hospital (community) setting,” said Gary A. Pestano, PhD, co-investor of the test. “Physicians and patients in a community setting may not have easy access to a large hospital or other diagnosis/treatment facility. This assay provides results within 72 hours from the sample receipt.”

The authors noted that the test may also be able to provide insight into selecting treatments faster through assessing the presence of residual disease, recurrence, or relapse and detection of treatment-resistant cancer cells.

“These data highlight the adoption of mutation testing by the lung cancer community and demonstrate the utility of a centralized laboratory for the evaluation of actionable mutations from blood,” said first author Hestia Mellert, PhD. “Physicians in remote locations may now have greater and more rapid access to this critical patient information.”