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Catch It Early

A few biotech firms say they are getting close to being able to detect cancer early through blood tests, CNBC reports.

Current liquid biopsy tests monitor patients already diagnosed with cancer to see whether their disease is responding to treatment, it adds. But, according to CNBC, using the same approach, companies like Freenome, Grail, and Thrive are working to detect cancer in its early stages when it may be easier to treat.

In particular, it notes Freenome is focusing on detecting colorectal cancer, while Grail and Thrive are pursuing tests to detect multiple cancer types. According to CNBC, Freenome has begun to release data from a study of 3,000 individuals, both healthy people and people recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer, who underwent stool and blood testing. On a subset of patients, the company said its test had a sensitivity of 94 percent and a specificity of 94 percent for early-stage colorectal cancer.

"Accurate, low-cost liquid biopsy can transform how we diagnose and manage cancer," Nina Kjellson, a biotech investor with the venture capital firm Canaan, tells CNBC.