Market Intel: Liquid Biopsies For Cancer Screening – Far From Reach Or Close At Hand?

Senior vice president and managing director of McKesson Ventures Tom Rodgers reported that the firm broke precedent with its investment in GRAIL Inc.

The investment was unusual for the company in two ways; it was one of the firm’s larger spends, and it was also toward a pre-commercial stage, high-risk company.

“If with a simple annual blood test someone who feels completely healthy could identify that they might have an early-stage malignant tumor, that would obviously be revolutionary,” Rodgers says. He points out that it would greatly improve cancer prognosis and allow for more targeted treatment in a way that would “dramatically change the landscape of where and how cancer’s treated,” allowing for not only more care, but lower costs.

Rodgers is optimistic, saying that GRAIL could have their own test in the U.S. market as early as next year.

GRAIL boasts a number of “powerful, and impressive and relevant allies,” Rodgers says. He explains that this will help the company bring down high costs for sequencing and cloud computing, complementing the efforts of McKesson and US Oncology investments will ease clinical trial logistics and accelerate clinical development. Rodgers and McKesson expect similar reimbursement pathways to those of prenatal screening, saying, “This is a different context than most innovations that people are bringing to market, because I don’t think you will be as focused on CMS given age demographics… the cost benefits will be very evident.”

Rodgers goes on to talk about market size, and how he sees the future of GRAIL and how its products will fit into the market landscape. “The better [a GRAIL test] is, the closer it’ll be to $500, meaning the more sensitive and specific it is, the easier it will be for a payer to justify the investment in screening. In theory, you could have everyone between the ages of 40 and 60 getting this test done performed every couple of years, so that adds up to a pretty big market more akin to a major drug.”

Read the full write-up in Medtech Insight.