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Simple blood test opens door to new treatments for lung cancer patients


14 September, 2017  

A simple test which can detect gene mutations in tumour DNA from blood samples is giving new choices to lung cancer patients with faster diagnosis and improved access to life changing drugs.

Traditionally, lung cancer diagnosis has relied solely on lung biopsies, an invasive procedure which many patients are too unwell to tolerate.  However the new cobas® EGFR Mutation Test v2 CE-IVD test from Roche Diagnostics enables the use of a liquid biopsy from blood to be used alongside or instead of the lung biopsy (when the lung biopsy cannot be performed) to identify genetic abnormalities in the EGFR gene associated with lung cancer.

The test is highly specific and its results can be used to predict a patient’s response to treatment, allowing doctors to rapidly prescribe tailored treatments in line with NHS England’s goal to ensure personalised treatment and care for everyone diagnosed with cancer.

University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), has introduced the test to its renowned cancer diagnostics laboratory. The new testing service gives more patients access to life-saving treatments with fewer side-effects than classic chemotherapy, improving quality of life for patients.

The Trust’s new service has been highly commended for adopting the pioneering approach by the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network’s innovation awards.

Dr Phillipe Taniere, Consultant Histopathologist at UHB which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, said:
Identifying mutations in blood samples has historically been a challenge due to the low frequency of cancerous cells in the sample. However this new, powerful technology from Roche Diagnostics has made it possible to take a simple blood sample and rapidly identify EGFR mutations in tumours’ DNA. We are delighted to be providing such an advanced service to our patients and leading the way in diagnostic capabilities in the region and the UK.”

Brigitte Fernandes-McAlear, Director of Molecular, Tissue and Sequencing, Roche Diagnostics, said: “University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust has made Roche’s breakthrough innovation a reality for doctors and patients, ensuring rapid genetic analysis of cancer and personalised therapy. It’s essential that pioneering diagnostic approaches such as these are adopted across the cancer care pathway to treat patients with the medicines they so urgently need.”