Personalis is collaborating with BC Cancer to deploy a personalized liquid biopsy-based research use only assay for a study of patients with colorectal and pancreatic cancers.

The research efforts will deploy Personalis’ NeXT Personal, which has demonstrated high sensitivity for detecting circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) from a patient’s blood sample, to determine the best time to draw blood for ctDNA sampling for molecular residual disease (MRD) detection. MRD describes a very small number of cancer cells that remain in the body during or after treatment.

Identification and tracking of MRD is an emerging focus in the clinical care of patients with gastrointestinal cancers such as colorectal and pancreatic cancer, which may improve overall clinical management throughout a patient’s journey. Researchers are also hoping to show that ctDNA is useful in identifying cancer progression before the current standard of care tests and use the data to do an economic analysis to assess cost-effectiveness for healthcare systems.

“ctDNA surveillance may allow earlier detection of cancer recurrence or progression, and therefore earlier intervention, which may improve patient survival,” says Jonathan Loree, MD, medical oncologist at BC Cancer and Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. “In addition, because utilizing ctDNA for ongoing clinical management has the potential to reduce healthcare expenditures, our partnered research with Personalis will assess the costs of ctDNA-based surveillance compared to MRI/CT based surveillance.”

Approximately 220 patients will be recruited for this study from across British Columbia to assess how ctDNA can improve cancer care delivery.

“We believe the clinical management of cancer can substantially improve with early determination of patient response and by accurately informing changes to treatment regimens. Such determinations offer the potential to avoid unnecessary toxicities, improve cost-effectiveness, and increase survival,” says Richard Chen, MD, chief medical officer and senior VP of R&D at Personalis. “By collaborating with researchers at BC Cancer on this multifaceted study, we hope to accelerate advances in oncology practice via ultra-sensitive MRD detection.”