AACR: Thrive's early blood test doubles real-world cancer screening rates

When used in combination with PET-CT imaging scans, the screening test showed a false-positive rate of less than half of one percent, and was able to guide clinical follow-up in positive patients with zero adverse events. (Getty Images)

Thrive Earlier Detection has a clear, straightforward vision: help find cancers as early as possible, when they are most likely to be cured, by using a simple blood test. 

To prove it can work, the Fierce 15 winner took on a large study with an equally straightforward premise. Thrive put its blood test out in the field, tapping about 10,000 women with no prior history or current signs of cancer, and observed how it changed real-world clinical practice.

In cooperation with the Geisinger Health System and Johns Hopkins University, where its tech was first developed, researchers found its blood test more than doubled the number of cases detected by traditional diagnostics, from 25% to 52% when added to a routine workup—and also revealed several cancers that have no standard screening methods, such as mammograms or colonoscopies.

Virtual Roundtable

ASCO Explained: Expert predictions and takeaways from the world's biggest cancer meeting

Join FiercePharma for our ASCO pre- and post-show webinar series. We'll bring together a panel of experts to preview what to watch for at ASCO. Cancer experts will highlight closely watched data sets to be unveiled at the virtual meeting--and discuss how they could change prescribing patterns. Following the meeting, we’ll do a post-show wrap up to break down the biggest data that came out over the weekend, as well as the implications they could have for prescribers, patients and drugmakers.

The test identified tumors from 10 different organs, with 65% of the cases found before any signs that the disease had metastasized and spread further throughout the body. The results were then provided to physicians to inform their next steps.

"This study is a seminal moment in cancer screening that advances the entire field," said Christoph Lengauer, Thrive’s co-founder and chief innovation officer. “We learned that it can be both complementary to existing standard-of-care screening tools, and a significant benefit for many types of cancers like ovarian, appendix and kidney, which do not have any current screening modalities."

RELATED: FierceMedTech’s 2019 Fierce 15 | Thrive Earlier Detection

When used in combination with PET-CT imaging scans, the screening method showed a false-positive rate of less than 0.5%, and it was able to guide clinical follow-up in positive patients with zero side effects, the company said.

The prospective study used an earlier version of the company’s CancerSEEK blood test, first developed in 2016, which analyzes genes and proteins linked to multiple cancers. The trial's results were presented at the virtual annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research by Johns Hopkins' Nickolas Papadopoulos, professor of oncology and co-founder of Thrive, alongside a publication in Science.

RELATED: With $110M and Johns Hopkins tech, Thrive aims to make early cancer screening routine

Overall, Thrive's blood test's sensitivity was 27.1% across all cancers. Of the thousands of women who enrolled in the study, 96 went on to develop cancer: 26 first identified by Thrive’s blood test, 24 by standard screening methods, and 46 after symptoms developed or by other means. 

Twelve of the cancers detected by the blood test had tumors that were able to be surgically removed. The study plans to follow all participants through the health system for five years.

“We believe that more than two-thirds of cancers that occur in the U.S. can eventually be screen-detected, either by blood testing or standard screening, before they cause symptoms of disease,” said Bert Vogelstein, co-founder of Thrive and co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Such earlier detection has the capacity to substantially reduce suffering and death from many cancer types.”

Suggested Articles

The FDA named more than two dozen coronavirus antibody tests that should be taken off the market weeks after the agency clamped down on tests.

Inovio CEO J. Joseph Kim is undeterred by short sellers and other detractors who doubt his company can shuttle a COVID-19 DNA vaccine to market.

The machine-learning programs scroll through data to detect hard-to-spot patterns. Yet few have been tested against standard procedures.