April 20, 2017

Developing new tests to find and defeat cancer at its earliest stages

By Sharon Rosen

By Susan Buckles

Mammography and other screening tools have made great strides in finding cancer early, when it is most likely to be successfully treated. However, some early-stage cancers are missed by conventional screening and are only detected when symptoms occur. Mayo Clinic and other research institutions are wondering: could a blood test complement current practice to improve rates of early detection and cure?


Research suggests that novel blood tests may be able to find cancer early, by identifying small pieces of genetic material shed by tumors. Mayo Clinic is collaborating with GRAIL, a life science company, and Sutter Health of California, on the STRIVE clinical research study to facilitate the development of GRAIL’s blood tests for early-stage cancer detection.


Dr. Minetta Liu

Minetta Liu, M.D., Fergus Couch, Ph.D., and Celine Vachon, Ph.D. are leading the STRIVE study at Mayo Clinic. The study will enroll 40,000 women at the time of screening mammography over the next 15 months at Mayo Clinic’s campuses in Rochester, Minnesota; Jacksonville, Florida; and Phoenix, Arizona; as well as at the Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare locations in La Crosse and Onalaska, Wisconsin.


Sutter Health will enroll another 80,000 women at locations in California during that same time frame. Participants will provide blood samples, complete an electronic questionnaire and allow for follow-up regarding their clinical outcomes.  Learn more about this study in GRAIL’s news release.


Dr. Fergus Couch

Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine (CIM) has been an early supporter of the STRIVE study. Mayo Clinic has placed a high priority on being a leader in the development of blood tests for the most effective detection and treatment of breast and other cancers. Use of such tests should improve the sensitivity of early cancer detection and will allow monitoring of existing cancers for remission, recurrence and therapeutic choice without the need for an invasive biopsy.


Dr. Celine Vachon

With these goals in mind, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center investigators have collaborated with the biotechnology company GRAIL to develop and initiate this study. CIM facilitated the rapid launch of this study within Mayo Clinic by providing early funding and internal project management support.






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The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, with support from the Jackson Family Foundation, is hosting the sixth annual genomics conference, October 9–10, in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Tags: #blood test, #Dr. Celine Vachon, #Dr. Fergus Couch, #Dr. Minetta Liu, #GRAIL, #medical resesarch, #screening test, #STRIVE, #Sutter Health, breast cancer, center for individualized medicine, mayo clinic, Precision Medicine

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