Liquid biopsy aids in early cancer diagnosis, study shows

A clinical validation study of more than 350 dogs suggests blood-based testing could increase preclinical cancer detection

The addition of a blood draw to canine wellness checks could help in the early detection of more than 30 types of cancer, according to a new clinical validation test by PetDx.The addition of a blood draw to canine wellness checks could help in the early detection of more than 30 types of cancer.

This is according to PetDx. The molecular diagnostics company has published the results of a clinical validation study for its proprietary product, OncoK9, a multi-cancer early detection (MCED) test for dogs that uses next-generation sequencing (NGS) of blood-derived DNA.

The study looked at more than 350 dogs diagnosed with cancer. Retrospective medical record review was performed to establish the history and presenting complaint that, ultimately, led to a definitive cancer diagnosis.

Four per cent of these patients were found to have had their cancer detected during a wellness check before the onset of clinical signs. Blood samples were subjected to DNA extraction, library preparation, and next-generation sequencing. Sequencing data were analyzed using an internally developed bioinformatics pipeline to detect genomic alterations associated with the presence of cancer.

The proprietary product detected cancer in about half the dogs with preclinical disease, PetDx reports, suggesting the use of a next-generation sequencing-based liquid biopsy screening test has the potential to increase early cancer detection at wellness visits and expand the number of cancer types detectable at these visits.

“This study showed that very few cases of cancer were actually found using the current paradigm,” says lead author and PetDX chief medical officer, Andi Flory, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology). “The vast majority were found only after the dog’s family noted clinical signs at home. By the time clinical signs are evident, cancer may already be advanced.”

The test, which uses a blood drawn, has previously been shown to detect 30 different types of canine cancer, with a sensitivity of 85.4 per cent for three of the most aggressive types (lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma) and an overall sensitivity of 54.7 per cent, at a specificity of 98.5 per cent (corresponding to a false positive rate of 1.5 per cent).

“Next-generation sequencing is an advanced technology that is used for multiple applications in human medicine, including liquid biopsy testing for cancer detection,” says Ilya Chorny, PhD, chief technology officer for PetDx. “It is highly specific for cancer, so it has a low false-positive rate. It looks for cancer-associated genomic alterations across millions of DNA fragments in each blood sample and can allow for more cancer cases to be detected in both human and canine patients.”

“Liquid biopsy is a new tool to change the way we detect cancer in dogs, allowing for more cancers to be diagnosed earlier, when there may be more treatment options,” Dr. Flory adds.

The findings have been published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. For more, click here.

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