'Pan-Cancer' Found in Highly Sensitive Blood Test

An affordable, highly accurate blood test may identify deficient concentrations of a cancer biomarker unique to several prevalent malignancies.

Patients could receive the care they require more quickly by using diagnostic techniques for prompt, accurate, and affordable early cancer diagnosis that can estimate risk or track treatment response. These tools could also aid existing care plans.

Researchers created a low-cost, susceptible blood test to find tiny amounts of a cancer biomarker particular to several prevalent tumors.

Only 25 blood microliters, or roughly half a drop, are required for each test to be completed. The instrument demonstrated promise for early cancer detection and disease monitoring, and it may be used with other tools for detection, risk assessment, and treatment.

We were fortunate to assemble this tremendous team to push the limits of these assays and obtain and test these precious samples.

-Kathleen Burns., co-senior author

The new work uses SIMOA, a single-molecule-based detection method created by the Walt lab. The test is made to look for the transposable element protein known as open reading frame 1 protein (ORF1p), known to be present in many tumors but not in comparable normal tissue and which can suggest a high risk of cancer lethality.

For a long time, scientists have looked for a sensitive, reliable assay to identify ORF1p.

According to the authors, the initial examination of the test was a pilot experiment that turned out to be more successful than they had anticipated. Several engineering advancements and iterations in patient samples followed this.

Per co-first author Martin Taylor, the researchers were astounded by how successfully this test identified the biomarker's expression in various cancer types.

"It's created more questions for us to explore and sparked interest among collaborators across many institutions," added Taylor.

The specificity for cancer identification was supported by the ultrasensitive evaluation tool's successful quantification of ORF1p in blood samples from cancer patients, but only in very few extremely 'healthy' individuals.

Research on tissue samples from around 200 colon cancer patients and 75 esophageal biopsies at various stages of the disease revealed that ORF1p tissue expression was common in carcinomas and high-risk precursor lesions.

Our results bolster the emerging idea that ORF1p expression is a 'hallmark of cancer' expressed starting early in the disease process. Pervasive expression of ORF1p in carcinomas and the lack of expression in normal tissues makes ORF1p unlike other protein biomarkers, which have normal expression levels. This unique biology makes it highly specific.


The study's conclusions need more essential details, such as the location of the body's malignant tissues, which poses a constraint. Additionally, the ultrasensitive evaluation technique does not detect all tumors and their subtypes.

According to the team's vision, the technology would enable doctors to track patient response to cancer medication in real time and adapt as necessary. It may also be used with other tests to improve early detection testing procedures.

To determine whether assessing the ORF1p biomarker might be beneficial for the treatment of their patients, the study's pathology researchers are currently collaborating with physicians to examine the test's accuracy in more significant trial cohorts and diverse patient demographics.

Also being investigated is the possibility of stratifying patient cancer risk using the biomarker.

Burns claims that although they have known for about ten years that ORF1p is a pervasive cancer biomarker and that transposable elements are active in some tumors, they have not been able to detect it in blood testing until now.

She concludes: "Having a technology capable of detecting ORF1p in blood opens so many possibilities for clinical applications."

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