GRAIL Details Plans for Early Cancer Detection Trials, Products

GRAIL management has confirmed that the company will be releasing a cell-free, DNA-based assay in Hong Kong this year to test for nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

At the recent Precision Medicine World Conference, GRAIL also outlined their strategy for a circulating cell-free genome atlas trial. They plan to expand the testing pool from 10,000 participants to 15,000. Additionally, GRAIL will develop at least one breast cancer test as part of its STRIVE trials.

The announcement comes on the heels of the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine last August of a 20,000-person study performed in collaboration with the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The study focused on PCR-based testing targeting the Epstein Barr virus in nasopharyngeal carcinoma tumors—essentially detecting cancer.

GRAIL plans to target Asia because of the prevalence of disease there—higher than in other parts of the world.

The cell-free genome atlas trial, called CCGA, is expected to add its goal of 15,000 participants by the end of 2018, according to Richard Williams, GRAIL’s group medical director. The plan is to enroll 10,500 patients who have recently been diagnosed with cancer and have yet to receive treatment. Additionally, the study will include 4,500 participants without cancer.

Williams said that GRAIL will also be sequencing white blood cells as part of the CCGA trials. According to previous research, white blood cells can contain “clonal hematopoiesis”—an important indicator of cancer in atypical cases.

The results of the CCGA trial will inform the methods used in the continuation of GRAIL’s STRIVE study, which focuses on breast cancer. STRIVE involves collecting blood from women and then following their progress for five years. Some will be women diagnosed with cancer, while others are not. Researchers will also be looking at instances of abnormal mammogram results and whether or not these result in a cancer diagnosis.

Further details on the research are being released over time as GRAIL puts its plans into action.