By Stephanie Murg, Managing Director, G2 Intelligence
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston) is teaming with Exact Sciences Corp. (Madison, Wisc.) on tests that can detect lung cancer at early stages. The partnership, announced June 4, will focus on developing and commercializing a blood-based lung cancer screening test to determine the need for low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) as well as a diagnostic test to determine the malignant status of nodules found through LDCT screening.
“Taking on lung cancer offers an opportunity to build on the success of Cologuard,” says Exact Sciences’ Chairman and CEO Kevin Conroy, referring to the company’s FDA-approved colon cancer screening test. “A simple blood test to complement a LDCT scan could significantly improve early-stage lung cancer detection.”
The screening test would offer the opportunity to screen nearly 11 million Americans considered high-risk smokers and former smokers. Currently, more than half of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, after symptoms appear, when the five-year survival rate is in the low single digits. If detected at an early stage, lung cancer’s five-year survival rate can be as high as 80 percent.
“Lung cancer is, and will continue to be, America’s leading cancer killer unless we identify new approaches to diagnose it early, at its most treatable stages,” says Sam Hanash, M.D., Ph.D., director of MD Anderson’s Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer. “Our collaboration with Exact Sciences provides a great opportunity to create tests that could shift the lung cancer detection paradigm for the benefit of patients.”
This partnership will build upon MD Anderson’s research into predictive biomarkers, without limiting the test to a single type of biomarker, such as DNA, proteins, metabolites, and autoantibodies. Adds Hanash, “Our goal is to choose the best-performing biomarkers for our panel across multiple technologies.”