New blood test could be the ‘holy grail of cancer research’

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The "holy grail" of cancer treatment moved a step closer yesterday after a study showed that a simple blood test can spot several forms of the disease at an early stage.

The test is called liquid biopsy and it's being hailed as the "holy grail of cancer research".

In its trial stage, the test proved particularly successful in detecting genetic diseases, including pancreatic and ovarian cancers.

"This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are now hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure, and we hope this test could save many lives", lead study author, Dr Eric Klein, told The Telegraph.

'We hope this test could save many lives.

'Most cancers are detected at a late stage, but this "liquid biopsy" gives us the opportunity to find them months or years before someone would develop symptoms and be diagnosed'.

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Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said such advances in medicine could "dramatically transform" the tools doctors use to screen cancer.

'In particular, new techniques for precision early diagnosis would unlock enormous survival gains, as well as dramatic productivity benefits in the practice of medicine'.

In the study, researchers found that the test could detect 10 types of cancer and that it was 80 to 90 percent accurate for some cancer types. In the soon-to-be presented research, the team sampled 1,627 volunteers, 749 of which did not have cancer and 878 that had various types of newly detected not yet treated cancer, CNN reported.

Tests for lymphoma and myeloma were slightly less accurate, with 77 and 73 percent detection rates, respectively.

The test was less precise for lung, esophageal, and head and neck cancers, detecting these cancers with about 50 to 60 percent accuracy.

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