A new blood test, called immunosignaturing 1, has the potential to change the cancer-care landscape dramatically. Now in research labs, it promises to detect breast cancer as early as a year before traditional diagnosis, with 90% certainty.
Early diagnosis is an important factor in predicting cancer survival rates. Patients diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer have a 100% five-year survival rate, while patients diagnosed in Stage III only 72%, as shown below.
The test, out of Arizona State University’s labs, analyzes the presence of immune cells and the strength of their reaction to specific sequences of peptides on chips. Blood is left on the chips and the strength which antibodies react to certain sequences indicates the presence and type of cancer.
Instead of diagnosing cancer with biomarkers in response to adverse symptoms, the immunosignature blood test could become part of routine physical exams. This integration, facilitating earlier diagnosis, would improve cancer survival rates meaningfully.
Immunosignaturing could disrupt several markets, among them medical imaging and molecular diagnostics. Imaging companies, such as Siemans SIE, General Electric GE, and Philips PHG, dominate the imaging space. Because immunosignaturing may detect cancer early enough to obviate the need for surgery, imaging procedures used to size and locate tumors could become unnecessary. Mammography would also play less of a role in the early identification of cancer.
While molecular diagnostic companies are less at risk, those that detect the presence of cancer would become obsolete. Veracyte VCYT, for one, would be at significant risk. Companies focused on the genetics of the cancer, however, may benefit from immunosignaturing. Foundation Medicine FMI and Clovis Oncology CLVS could be prime beneficiaries.
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