Start-up business, Guardant Health, has just raised $360 million in a bid to make cancer testing as straightforward as just taking a blood test. In total, the company has raised more than $500 million. Some of their investors include Khosla Ventures and Sequoia Capital.
At the moment, their current product, Guardant360, is described as ‘the only biopsy-free tumor sequency test that tracks tumor genomics in real-time’. It is a breakthrough way of testing cancer, which typically relies on tissue biopsies. These can carry with them risks, scarring and extra costs for hospitals.
The test is aimed at those who already have cancer, and requires taking two tubes of blood samples to gain genetic information that then shows oncologists how the tumors are responding to therapy. It is thought to be a precise and non-invasive method. So far Guardant360 has been used in more than 1,000 clinics and is used by most leading cancer centers.
When testing the blood, they are essentially looking through billions of cells for circulating tumor DNA, or quite simply – the dying tumor cell fragments that are released into the bloodstream.
When testing the blood, they are essentially looking through billions of cells for circulating tumor DNA, or quite simply – the dying tumor cell fragments that are released into the bloodstream. Guardant Health assess the blood for 73 cancer genes. Then, they digitally tag each DNA fragment and make millions of copies.
Unlike standard sequencing, which can introduce errors and false positives, their digital inference engine is thought to reduce these errors by 1000 times. The test looks for actionable somatic alterations (a mutation in the DNA that can be targeted) across all solid tumor sites. For advanced cancers, it can build up a clear genomic picture of the tumor DNA to enable practitioners to establish targeted therapies.
Guardant Health is able to get a huge amount of valuable information for their database about tumor alterations and treatment outcomes, which creates a roadmap for cancer care and defeating the disease.
The results are comprehensive, accurate and include suggested treatment options. Doctors will get the results back within two weeks. They also enable Guardant Health to collate a huge amount of valuable information for their database about tumor alterations and treatment outcomes. This in turn helps them to create a roadmap for cancer care and defeating the disease.
With the additional round of funding, Guardant Health hopes to sequence one million cancer patients over the next five years. This will help the company to develop an early-detection test, which is reliant on lots more data that isn’t currently available today. Guardant Health is one of several companies (including Grail and Freenome) looking into finding the answer to early cancer detection, with many gaining huge investments.
89% felt that genetic testing would become useful in the future.
Some oncologists remain sceptical into how useful cancer genomics tests actually are, with 36% of the 132 oncologists surveyed by Medscape believing it wasn’t currently useful. Additionally, 61% felt that less than one-quarter of their patients would actually benefit from the testing. However, 89% felt that genetic testing would become useful in the future.