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New study aims to find cancer in healthy volunteers with a simple blood test

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VANCOUVER — A new pilot study launched at the BC Cancer Agency aims to use state-of-art screening technology to determine whether it is possible to detect early signs of cancer in healthy volunteers with the use of a simple blood test. 

By using a new method to detect DNA from cancer cells in the blood of volunteers with no known disease, the Cancer DNA Screening Pilot Study (CANDACE) will attempt to validate a simple and inexpensive screening blood test that could alert individuals to the presence of early cancers that might otherwise go undetected until symptoms develop.

For many types of cancer, early detection means more treatment options and better outcomes. Most population-based cancer screening methods such as mammography and colonoscopy are used to search for a single type of cancer. For other cancers, such as pancreatic or ovarian cancer, routine screening methods do not yet exist or are not clinically practical.

CANDACE will assess the clinical utility of a test based on technology developed by UBC and Boreal Genomics that has been previously shown to detect cancer DNA present in very low levels in the blood.

The CANDACE study will be recruiting 1,000 healthy volunteers that have previously agreed to be a part of the BC Generations Project who are between the ages of 55 and 75 who have not been diagnosed with cancer in the past. Participation in this study is by invitation only.

Participants who have a positive test result will be examined further using standard-of-care diagnostic methods, including medical imaging, to confirm whether the blood test has correctly indicated the presence of a cancer.

The CANDACE study is led by the BC Cancer Agency in collaboration with UBC, Boreal Genomics, the BC Generations Project and Pathway Genomics.

Quotes:

Dr. Alan Nichol, Radiation Oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at UBC and Principal Investigator for CANDACE:
"This new technology for detecting cancer DNA in the blood has the ability to screen for many cancers at once. We hope the CANDACE study will demonstrate that this blood test can detect a broad range of cancers while they are curable."

Dr. John Spinelli, Vice President of Population Oncology, former Director of the BC Generations Project and participant in the CANDACE study:
"The BC Cancer Agency is grateful for the healthy volunteers of the BC Generations Project who are donating their time, and blood, to this study. In fact, I am one of those volunteers. It is important to evaluate whether this new technology will prove effective at detecting cancers early, when they are most able to be cured, and I am proud that the BC Cancer Agency and BC Generations Project are part of that process."

Dr. Andre Marziali, Chief Science Officer of Boreal Genomics and Professor and Director of Engineering Physics at UBC:
"We have invented a very powerful technology for extracting a small number of cancer DNA molecules from the large amounts of normal DNA present in everyone's blood. This enrichment for tumor DNA has enabled us to develop a highly sensitive test for tumor DNA in blood that promises to be a revolutionary cancer screening tool."

Learn more:

To learn more about the CANDACE and the BC Generations Project, visit: http://www.bcgenerationsproject.ca/

For video footage of how the BC Generations Project processes and stores participant baseline samples, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRqdGh-0ygA

The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit www.bccancer.bc.ca or follow us on Twitter @BCCancer_Agency.

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit www.phsa.ca​ or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.

The BC Generations Project is British Columbia's largest-ever health study. The Project follows a cohort of nearly 30,000 BC participants who volunteer their health information and biological samples and allow the Project to invite them to participate in additional research studies in order to help researchers learn new ways to detect and prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. Learn more at www.bcgenerationsproject.ca.

Boreal Genomics, founded in 2007 to further develop and commercialize DNA enrichment technology invented at UBC, is a private technology company developing solutions for highly accurate DNA selection and identification. The team at Boreal, composed largely of engineering and science graduates from UBC and SFU, has a history of success in fields ranging from forensics to soil genomics, and over the last few years has focused its skills on developing technology to provide the most accurate and inexpensive approach possible for detection of tumor DNA in blood. Boreal's OnTarget tumor DNA enrichment system is sold commercially to partners in North America and abroad who wish to develop sensitive DNA tests from blood. For more about Boreal Genomics, visit www.borealgenomics.com.

Pathway Genomics, founded in late 2008, has rapidly become a leader in the commercial healthcare industry. Pathway Genomics' success lies in its commitment to deliver innovative healthcare solutions. Based in San Diego, the company's CLIA and CAP accredited clinical laboratory provides physicians and their patients in more than 40 different countries with actionable and accurate precision healthcare information to improve, or maintain, health and wellness. Pathway Genomics' testing services cover a variety of conditions including cancer risk, cardiac health, inherited diseases, nutrition and exercise response, as well as drug response for specific medications including those used in pain management and mental health. For more about Pathway Genomics, visit www.pathway.com.

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For more information or to arrange an interview:


Kevin Sauve
Communications Officer
kevin.sauve@bccancer.bc.ca
Media line: 604-877-6436
PHSA media pager: 778-867-7472

 

Editor's note:

  • The CANDACE study will recruit 1,000 volunteers that have previously agreed to be a part of the BC Generations Project who are between the ages of 55 and 75 who have not been diagnosed with cancer in the past.
  • The study is expected to be completed and results gathered by September 2017.
  • The technology can detect 96 common mutations seen in at least eight cancer types including lung, breast, colorectal, ovarian, pancreatic, bladder, endometrial cancers and melanoma, and may detect other cancers as well.
  • In British Columbia, nearly 16,000 cases of the above eight cancer types were diagnosed in 2015.
  • Only 15 per cent of ovarian cancers, for which there is currently no screening technology, are caught early when they are localized and when the relative five-year survival rate is 92 per cent.*
  • Sixty per cent of ovarian cancers are caught after they have become metastatic and when the relative five-year survival rate is only 28 per cent.*
  • Only nine per cent of pancreatic cancers, for which there is currently no screening technology, are caught early when they are localized and when the relative five-year survival rate is 30 per cent.*
  • Fifty-two per cent of pancreatic cancers are caught after they have become metastatic and when the relative five-year survival rate is only three per cent.*

​* Figures from NCI SEER Program Statistics: http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/


 
 
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