Screening for cancer may now be as simple as a blood test.
Illumina, Inc., a company that develops, manufactures and markets integrated systems to analyze variation, announced GRAIL on Sunday, a new company formed to enable cancer screening from a blood test. GRAIL will develop a pan-cancer screening test by directly measuring nucleic acids in blood.
“We hope today is a turning point in the war on cancer,” said Jay Flatley, Illumina Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of GRAIL. “By enabling the early detection of cancer in asymptomatic individuals through a simple blood screen, we aim to massively decrease cancer mortality by detecting the disease at a curable stage.”
Detecting cancer at the earliest stages greatly increases survival rates.
“The holy grail in oncology has been the search for biomarkers that could reliably signal the presence of cancer at an early stage,” said Dr. Richard Klausner, formerly Illumina Chief Medical Officer and NCI Director, and a Director of GRAIL. “Illumina’s sequencing technology now allows the detection of circulating nucleic acids originating in the cancer cells themselves, a superior approach that provides a direct rather than surrogate measurement.”
GRAIL is majority owned by Illumina and funded by Illumina and ARCH Venture Partners with participating investments from Bezos Expeditions, Bill Gates and Sutter Hill Ventures.