Chosen wisely: Grail, Quest team up on cancer blood test

Grail has tapped testing giant Quest Diagnostics to help roll out its upcoming multi-cancer blood test, expected to launch in the coming months. 

In addition to providing blood draws for the company’s prescription Galleri test at its more than 2,000 locations, Quest will provide sample collection services through at-home visits, via a network of 5,000 mobile phlebotomists under its ExamOne business.

Grail’s cancer test has been shown to detect the early signs of more than 50 different types of cancer from a single sample, with the ability to direct clinicians to the affected organ by analyzing tumor DNA floating in the bloodstream.

“Today, the majority of cancers go undetected until too late when outcomes are often deadly, and we believe Galleri could offer a unique and potentially life-saving solution by finding multiple types of cancers earlier,” said Joshua Ofman, M.D., Grail’s chief medical officer and head of external affairs. “Our agreement with Quest will help us support convenient access to blood collection for patients and healthcare providers.”  

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Slated to debut before the end of June, the test will be available with a prescription first through partnered health systems, medical practices and self-insured employers, the companies said. 

Currently, Galleri is being studied in a prospective U.S. trial of more than 6,000 participants to gauge its impact on clinical practice and an oncologist’s typical diagnostic workup when a patient is suspected of having cancer. The test is also set to be evaluated by the U.K. National Health Service in a large clinical program starting later this year.

Meanwhile, Grail itself awaits the closure of an $8 billion deal to be reacquired by its corporate progenitor, DNA sequencing giant Illumina, which originally spun off the blood testing company in 2016. 

That transaction is set to close in the second half of this year, but Illumina has already inked separate cancer testing collaborations—with the likes of Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, Myriad Genetics, Kura Oncology and others—as it prepares to dive deeper into clinical testing.