Scientists have developed a groundbreaking test that can detect 18 early-stage cancers, potentially representing a significant advancement in medical diagnostics. This test, designed by US researchers from the biotech firm Novelna, analyzes proteins in the blood to identify early-stage cancers across all main organs in the human body.
Traditional methods for early cancer detection have faced challenges such as invasiveness, cost, and low accuracy for early-stage diseases. The Novelna test addresses these issues by using specific blood proteins for early detection and monitoring. Previous tests lacked sensitivity (accuracy in identifying those with cancer) and specificity (accuracy in excluding those without cancer). However, Novelna’s test demonstrates much greater sensitivity than existing tests, including the Galleri test currently being trialed in the UK.
The test works by differentiating cancer samples from normal ones and distinguishing between different types of cancers with high accuracy. It also suggests that cancer protein signals may be sex-specific. The research, published in the journal BMJ Oncology, indicates that this test could reshape screening guidelines and become a standard part of routine check-ups, offering a cost-effective, highly accurate, multi-cancer screening test on a population-wide scale.
The study involved collecting blood plasma samples from 440 people diagnosed with 18 different types of cancer and 44 healthy blood donors. The researchers identified proteins that indicated early-stage cancers and their origin in the body with high accuracy. At stage I and a specificity of 99%, the panels identified 93% of cancers in males and 84% in females.