Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

To Spot it Early

Jeff Huber, a former Google X senior vice president, is joining Grail, as its CEO, Technology Review reports.

Grail, which was launched by Illumina last month, aims to develop a blood-based next-generation sequencing screening test to detect cancer early on, as GenomeWeb reported earlier this year. It has raised more than $100 million in a Series A financing round from Arch Venture Partners and Illumina, and has investments from Bezos Expeditions, Bill Gates, and Sutter Hill Venture.

While at Google, Huber helped build the systems that manage and analyze the data used for AdWords, Google Maps, and the Google Apps, Reuters notes. He then joined Google X and began working on data and the life sciences. He joined Illumina's board in 2014.

But when Huber's wife died of colon cancer last year, his work took on more of a personal meaning. "I had already been ramping up on the biology and science behind this and then there was this very poignant reminder of the implications that there has to be a better way to do this," Huber tells Reuters.

"She's one story among millions of stories," he adds at Forbes. "But it is a potentially interesting case study. If Grail had existed previously, if it had been available three years ago or four years ago or five years ago when she got her annual physical exam and did a blood test anyway, and if the results had come back then saying that you have early stage cancer, there's a very good chance that the outcome for her could have been different."

But, as Forbes' Matthew Herper notes, Grail's test doesn't exist yet and as technological and other hurdles to overcome before it could be used.

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.