British Medical Laboratory Test for Early Screening of Lung Cancer Shows Promising Interim Results in Large Trial; Could Lead to Other Simple Blood Tests for Cancer Detection
EarlyCDT-Lung test followed by X-rays and CT scans proves up to five times more likely to detect cancer than current standard of care
Encouraging preliminary results from a 12,000-person clinical trial into the effectiveness of a non-invasive medical laboratory blood test for the early detection of lung cancer could signal an advance that leads to creation of similar anatomic pathology screening tests for the early detection of other cancers.
Interim results of a study using the potentially life-saving blood test EarlyCDT-Lung were presented on December 6, 2016, at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer in Vienna, Austria. Initial results from the trial indicated the blood test can detect lung cancer potentially up to five years before symptoms develop.
Just 20% of Lung Cancers Detected in Early Stages
The National Health Service Scotland Early Lung Cancer Detection Study (ECLS) is the largest randomized trial for the early detection of lung cancer using biomarkers ever conducted, according to a statement from Oncimmune, an early-cancer detection company in the UK that has developed and is commercializing the EarlyCDT platform technology. EarlyCDT-Lung measures a panel of seven autoantibodies associated specifically with lung cancer.
Oncimmune Holdings (LON:ONC) announced in a statement interim results that showed nearly one in 10 (9.8%) participants of the 6,000-person test group who received the blood test had results indicating antibodies present. Those with a positive test result were then investigated further with a chest X-ray and serial CT scans to look for signs of cancer. Sixteen lung cancers have been detected, 12 (75%) of which are at an early stage.
Presently, Oncimmune states that “only 20% of lung cancers are detected incidentally at an early stage, with the remaining 80% present symptomatically, which may be up to four years after it could have been detected by the EarlyCDT-Lung test followed by CT screening.”
EarlyCDT Can Detect Cancers up to Five Years Earlier
A University of Dundee’s news release on the preliminary results suggests the blood test can lead to a diagnosis “potentially up to five years” before traditional scans show damage.
“The results continue to be very encouraging and suggest it could be possible to detect early stage lung cancers sooner than with current methods,” Frank Sullivan, PhD, Research Professor, University of Toronto, and Honorary Professor, University of Dundee, Chief Investigator of the ECLS Study, said in the Oncimmune statement. “We look forward to completing the study and presenting full results, including the control group, after the full follow-up period.”
As outlined in the ECLS brochure, the more than 12,000 high-risk adults aged 50-75 who are taking part in the ECLS study will be followed for 10 years. Final results from the study are expected in 2019, according to an article posted on Directors Talk.
“It is a quick and simple blood test so there is no risk to the patient,” Russell told The Sun. “Whether it is used for mass screening or not depends on how many cancers are picked up overall in the study.”
The research is a collaboration between several National Health Service (NHS) Health Boards in Scotland as well as the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Nottingham, Toronto and the Scottish Cancer Registry.
Early Detection Can Save Lives
When reporting in 2012 about plans for the massive lung cancer screening trial, the BBC noted Scotland has one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world, with fewer than 9% of patients still alive five years after diagnosis.
Dr. Stuart Schembri, Honorary Senior Lecturer University of Dundee and Co-Chief Investigator of the study, stresses the important role the EarlyCDT-Lung test could play in saving lives.
“Lung cancer is a serious and life threatening illness and our best hope for successful treatment is to detect it as early as possible,” Schembri said in the University of Dundee news release. “Heavy smokers are particularly at risk, but it is just not possible to scan everyone who is considered high risk … We therefore need to find a way to identify which of the people at high risk need a scan and a way to detect lung cancer before patients present with symptoms.”
Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will want to track the progress of this technology as it is developed further. The eventual use of this methodology to create non-invasive tests that can detect cancer much earlier than currently happens would be a high-demand product for medical laboratories worldwide.
—Andrea Downing Peck