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Trial to Assess Multi-Factor Blood Test for Cancer

Blood sample vials

(Ahmad Ardity, Pixabay)

6 Sept. 2022. A clinical trial is set to begin that evaluates genomic and related data from routine blood tests to screen for cancer in real-world settings. The study is sponsored by computational diagnostics company Freenome Holdings Inc. in South San Francisco, partnering with a network of participating medical centers.

Freenome develops diagnostics for cancer that the company says make it possible to detect and characterize cancer earlier in the course of the disease, providing patients more options for prevention and treatment. According to Freenome, many other cancer screening techniques use simplified assumptions and models for a disease that’s inherently dynamic and complex. The company says its technology provides physicians with more details about a patient’s cancer than its presence or absence.

According to Freenome, that technology applies machine learning algorithms and other computational techniques to genomics data extracted from routine blood draws. Those analytics, says the company, provide findings that highlight a range of biomarkers in patient blood samples, with indicators of immune-system and metabolic changes, as well as DNA in the blood emitted from tumor cells. While many liquid biopsies offer a few mutations characterizing a patient’s cancer, Freenome says its analytics provide physicians with a more nuanced and detailed picture earlier in the progress of the disease, and thus better targets for precision treatments.

Focus on pancreatic and colorectal cancer

The new clinical trial expects to enroll some 8,000 participants, age 30 and older, at medical centers and regional health systems in the U.S. Patients admitted to participating medical centers will be asked to offer their blood samples over 12 months, a routine test administered at hospitals, for the study. Samples will be divided between patients with newly-diagnosed cancer and other patients, and analyzed with Freenome’s analytics platform. The company plans to focus initially on cancers with high unmet needs, such as pancreatic and colorectal cancer.

“Our goal is to identify the right patient for the right screening tests at the right time, with clear next steps,” says Freenome chief medical officer Lance Baldo in a company statement released through Cision. Baldo adds, “We’re incorporating real-world data with a precision health mindset on clinical actionability.”

Collaborating with Freenome is the Learning Health Network, a group of medical centers in the U.S., and a unit of database software company Oracle. Learning Health Network has some 90 participating hospitals offering de-identified health data in real-world settings for clinical trials. Elligo Health Research in Austin, Texas is aiding the project with participant identification and recruitment.

In February 2022, Science & Enterprise reported on a similar clinical trial undertaken by Freenome Holdings. That study is enrolling some 5,400 participants, matching participants diagnosed with various types of cancer to similar patients, seeking detailed biomarkers and indicators for specific cancer types.

Freenome names its clinical trials for relatives of employees who died from cancer. The new study is called the Sanderson study, for Tim Sanderson, the father of a Freenome engineer.

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