The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre and Guardant Health have announced a multi-year partnership with the intention of accelerating comprehensive liquid biopsy (CLB) technology into standard cancer treatment. This agreement will make MD Anderson one of only a handful of hospitals worldwide to have access to integrated CLB capabilities.

MD Anderson and Guardant Health Join Forces

Standard tissue biopsies can tell clinicians a lot about the genomic makeup of a cancer patient’s tumour, but obtaining the required sample involves an invasive procedure, restricting application of the technique. Contrastingly, liquid biopsies can be used to monitor cancer through simple blood samples. In cancer patients, some of the tumour DNA will ‘leak’ into the bloodstream (known as circulating tumour DNA, ctDNA), along with whole tumour cells and these can be detected and examined using liquid biopsies. The results of liquid biopsies can therefore inform the treatment of the patient without the need for invasive procedures.

Guardant Health will help MD Anderson to build several liquid biopsy centres on-site to enable the development of non-invasive assays, and later to perform jointly-funded interventional clinical utility studies to demonstrate the way CLBs can improve patient care. The project is reliant on Guardant Health’s Digital Sequencing technology (Guardant360).

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“Liquid biopsies are far less invasive than traditional biopsies, a development that not only benefits our patients through a simplified diagnostic procedure but also by significantly enhanced analysis of samples taken,” said Dr. Stanley Hamilton, professor of Pathology and division head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at MD Anderson. “This unique partnership will greatly contribute to bringing liquid biopsies to the forefront of cancer care. We have already seen in the medical literature the impact this technology can have on patients, and we anticipate this agreement will drive broader access for our patients in the future.”

The partnership will also involve using CLB clinical utility studies to promote the incorporation of CLB testing into the national standard treatments for cancer.

“While we have seen unprecedented uptake of Guardant360 since its launch as the world’s first comprehensive liquid biopsy, we realize we are only scratching the surface of its potential impact on oncology,” said Helmy Eltoukhy, CEO and co-founder of Guardant Heath. “This partnership is an important milestone toward achieving our goal of conquering cancer with data. We knew we had to reduce the barrier to accessing somatic genomic information to drive exponential increases in cancer knowledge. Partnering with MD Anderson will accelerate the incorporation of our ground-breaking technology as a cornerstone of cancer management.”