Startup Hopes One Drop of Blood Could Diagnose All Types of Cancer

As genetics reveals the incredible diversity among cancer cells, researchers have largely given up pursuing a silver bullet to cure all types of cancer. Instead, many have begun searching for the next-best thing: a silver bullet test to diagnose all cancers.
The test would look for markers of cancer in the patient’s blood, where the process of tumor-making leaves a trail that can often be picked up before tumors are big enough to spot.
And early diagnosis makes a big difference in survival rates. When cancer is found in Stage 0, as it’s just getting started, or in Stage 1, it kills only 10 percent of patients, regardless of what type of cancer it is, for the most part. Many of the cancers we know as the deadliest are so known because they are rarely found in earlier stages.
Blood is also much easier to get than tumor samples, which have provided the bulk of the genetic information researchers have acquired on cancer cells.
There are various types of nucleic acid in the blood stream that can belie cancer, and the research challenge is how to find and identify them without running the cost up so high that the tests become useless as the general diagnostic tool they hope to be.
“Right now, in terms of a universal cancer blood test, there is none. There are many people looking at that. People are trying to isolate that specific particle using different methods,” explained Raj Krishnan, the founder and CEO of Biological Dynamics, one company trying to be the first to offer a comprehensive cancer diagnostic test based on a blood sample.