A group of British scientists developed the first blood test to detect brain cancer. The revolutionary breakthrough could avoid surgeries currently needed to diagnose some brain tumors. Procedures that are highly invasive and risky.
“We believe this is a world first, as there are currently no non-invasive or non-radiological tests for these types of tumors,” Nelofer Syed, the study’s principal investigator, said in a statement. The research is being carried out by the Brain Tumor Research Center of Excellence, run by Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
The group called him to the test “liquid biopsy”. They highlight that it is low cost and that it could speed up diagnoses. In this way, patients will be able to start treatments – such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy – as soon as possible and increase survival rates.
The blood test will especially help patients with tumors considered “inaccessible,” located in very deep areas of the brain. This type of brain cancer affects thousands of people around the world each year. In the United Kingdom, for example, it is the type of cancer with the highest mortality in children and adults under 40 years of age.
“Thanks to this technology, it is possible to diagnose inaccessible tumors through a safe and easy-to-use blood test for the patient,” Syed noted. The clinical validation study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, involved brain cancer patients treated at the Brain Tumor Research Center of Excellence.
How does the brain cancer test work?
Those responsible for this test for brain cancer will now carry out larger trials. The US Food and Drug Association (FDA) has called the research a “breakthrough therapy.” In practice, this would help make the analysis available more quickly for the patients of this country.
This designation is only awarded after rigorous evaluation that demonstrates the product’s potential. If they are successful with the new trials, the test for brain cancer could be implemented in health centers within two years.
The test can detect circulating tumor cells in the blood, which can be analyzed in the same cellular detail as a real tissue sample, explained Kevin O’Neill, consultant neurosurgeon at Imperial College Healthcare. The test works by isolating these cells, which are then stained so they can be identified under a microscope.
The first studies confirmed that this test for brain cancer can accurately diagnose glial tumors. It is a particularly dangerous type of tumor because it can grow to press on the brain or spinal cord tissue. In this group are glioblastomas (GBM), astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.
Brain Tumor Research, which funded the research, said the brain cancer test is very “significant.” The institution highlighted, for example, that less than 1% of patients with GBM live more than 10 years. For many, the life expectancy is only 12 months.