May 21, 2008

Biomarkers for bloodtests and protein biomarkers for imaging for effective early stage cancer screening

Early detection saves lives as treatment is more effective. Also, it can be 100 times cheaper to treat early stage versus later stage cancer. The Canary Foundation goal is to deliver early detection tests for solid tumor cancers by 2015. Cancer treatment cost $89 billion in the U.S. in 2007. Over 1.4 million new cancer cases are expected in 2008 in the US alone. Less than 15% of research funding goes to early detection. Early detection has proven value: since 1950, there has been a 70 percent decline in cervical-cancer incidence and deaths in developed countries5 thanks to a simple screening test, the Pap test ($8 test). Effective early cancer tests could save over $50 billion per year in medical costs and 400,000 lives each year in the USA and 5 million lives around the world. 7 million people die from cancer each year worldwide.

Cancer researchers met at Stanford University to work toward a goal of developing a simple blood test to detect cancer.

The symposium by the Canary Foundation allowed doctors to share their research in developing a simple two-stage test for cancer. They're hoping to deliver an early detection test for solid tumor cancers by 2015, said Dr. Don Listwin, founder of the Canary Foundation.

The blood test, which would look for proteins given off by cancer cells, could detect the disease at its earliest stages, when treatment would be most effective.

Slide images and information is from the Canary Foundation presentation

A major investment in imaging is a key difference with Canary. As opposed to anatomical imaging, they strive to create probes that will home in on the cancer and light it up for the surgeon. Canary's goal is to deliver two‐stage tests for all solid tumors.

For the blood test, they need to combine multiple biomarkers to find ovarian cancer. So far, there aren’t single markers. Canary believes that combinations of three to five markers or “panels” will identify early cancer. They have a blood test that is quite promising at 0.960 in early stage cancer. So what is good enough? Well, if you cut someone open as the next step, then .96 isn’t near good enough. 4% wrong if you screen millions of woman is a disaster. But if you have a next stage imaging test to
confirm, deny or monitor, it is good enough. Without imaging, this test needs to be 0.999 and that will be very challenging if not impossible. Their focus is on new molecular imaging as opposed to anatomical imaging like X‐ray or mammography

They look for proteins that are specific to cancer that exist on the cell surface.
The scientists create probes that are specific to those cells and light them up.
Biomarkers for imaging are those type of proteins that stick on cell surface and for blood biomarkers it’s proteins that shed and circulate in the blood.

Nextbigfuture has been in favor of the aggressive research into biomarkers and the development of inexpensive tests for early disease detection.