Strand Life Sciences launches blood test to detect cancer

Bengaluru-based Strand Life Sciences has launched a blood test to detect a wide range of cancers, at a fraction of the cost of similar diagnostics available in the United States.

Strand Life Sciences announced the launch of their Liquid biopsy test portfolio 'Strand LB' that provides highly sensitive detection of tumour traces from a simple blood draw.

''This powerful tool can provide early and precise indication of tumour presence, cancer recurrence, and response to therapy compared to any other method used in the medical industry,'' the company stated in a release.

The blood-based biopsy test decodes genetic information, which in turn will assist doctors to match patients with treatments most likely to help with their particular type of cancer - an approach that is increasingly being adopted worldwide.

Liquid biopsy is a test that is used to find evidence of cancer in a blood draw. Traces of tumour DNA are released into the blood from dying cancer cells and can be detected by sensitive digital technologies. This DNA can give valuable and accurate information about the presence of changes in cancer-specific genes (also known as mutations). Since the sample collected from a patient is a fluid (in this case blood), the technique is known as a liquid biopsy.

''Liquid biopsy is a paradigm shift that involves a minimally-invasive procedure, no radioactive scans, and can detect tumour DNA traces from a simple blood draw. However, detecting tumour DNA requires a highly sensitive test capable of detecting 1 molecule in 1000. Our study on patients spanning a wide variety of cancer types – including lung, colorectal, breast, and bladder cancer – shows that STRAND LB can detect tumor DNA traces in as many as 35 per cent of patients with early-stage cancer, going up to 70-90 per cent in patients with locally advanced or metastatic cancer. These figures are at par with the best in the world'', said Dr Vijay Chandru, chairman and managing director, Strand Life Sciences.

The Strand LB tests are an outcome of the collaboration between scientific teams of Strand and Mazumdar Shaw Center for Translational Research (MSCTR), who worked together to develop these advanced tests which were validated by clinicians at the Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center (MSMC).

Strand Life Sciences has developed an entire portfolio of genetic tests using liquid biopsy. These tests can address problems faced by cancer patients in two significant directions.

Strand's tests will be sold for Rs20,000 ($310), while similar technology in the United States costs more than $3,000.

Normal and cancerous cells shed DNA into the blood when they die. Strand's tests capture these DNA fragments to determine the presence of solid tumour cancers.

There are many advantages to this approach. Solid tumour cancers are typically diagnosed using invasive tissue biopsies or radioactive scans, which can be expensive, risky and ineffective.

Strand's tests can find evidence of tumours in places inaccessible to surgeons, detect early signs of cancer recurrence and help doctors prescribe the appropriate therapy.

According to data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India is projected to have 1.73 million new cases of cancer reported in 2020 and over 8.8 lakh patients are expected to die from the disease.

To counter this large burden and rapid increase in incidence and persistence of the high mortality rate of 50 per cent, there is a strong need for better ways to diagnose, manage, and treat cancer.