Pathway Genomics will launch a cancer screening test designed to detect bits of cancer DNA in the blood of healthy people.
The test called CancerIntercept, can identify 96 somatic mutations that occur in nine genes associated with cancer: BRAF, CTNNB1, EGFR, FOXL2, GNAS, KRAS, NRAS, PIK3CA, and TP53. By scouring blood samples for these mutations, CancerIntercept may enable oncologists to get a jump on treatments for colorectal, breast, ovarian, and lung cancers, as well as melanoma, before a patient experiences symptoms.
"Early detection is the single most important factor in ensuring successful treatments and improved survival rates," said Jim Plant, Pathway Genomics founder and CEO, in a press release. "Cancer patients and those at risk for the disease can take proactive steps to safeguard their health and fight back against some of the most virulent forms of the disease."
News of CancerIntercept's launch has been the subject of criticism by many in the oncology research community who complain that the privately-funded Pathway Genomics lacks peer-reviewed clinical data to support its claims, and its liquid biopsy might do more harm than good.
Keith Stewart, an oncologist at the Mayo Clinic, told a news agency , "For any given test, the rate of false positives causing unnecessary alarm and false negatives that provide false security should be known."