UK researchers have unveiled a “world-first” blood test designed to support in brain cancer diagnosis. This innovative diagnostic tool not only promises to revolutionise the way brain tumours are identified but could also significantly improve patient outcomes by accelerating treatment initiation.

Traditionally, the diagnosis of certain brain tumours has necessitated invasive and risky surgical procedures. However, this new blood test holds the potential to alleviate patients from such procedures, providing a non-invasive alternative for diagnosing brain cancers. Experts believe that this advancement could not only simplify the diagnostic process but also enhance the likelihood of earlier detection, ultimately leading to more timely and effective treatments.

The implications of this breakthrough extend particularly to patients battling one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer—glioblastoma (GBM). The blood test, also known as a liquid biopsy, could prove instrumental in identifying this deadly cancer at an earlier stage, potentially boosting survival rates. Additionally, its cost-effectiveness and ease of implementation have gathered praise from brain tumour specialists, who believe it could be seamlessly integrated into clinical practices.

The Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence, spearheaded by Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, has initiated the preliminary studies on the effectiveness of the test. The focus has been on accurately diagnosing glial tumours, including GBM, astrocytomas, and oligodendrogliomas. These types of high-grade brain tumours are often challenging to diagnose promptly, making the introduction of a reliable and accessible diagnostic tool a significant breakthrough in the field.

One of the key advantages highlighted by experts is the test’s potential to benefit patients with “inaccessible” brain tumours. For these individuals, prompt treatment is crucial, and the blood test offers a means to kickstart therapeutic interventions as early as possible.

The TriNetra-Glio blood test, by Datar Cancer Genetics, works by isolating glial cells that have broken free from the tumour and are found circulating in the blood. The isolated cells are identified under a microscope.

Dr Nelofer Syed, who leads the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Imperial, said: “A non-invasive, inexpensive method for the early detection of brain tumours is critical for improvements in patient care.

“There is still some way to go, but this solution could help people where a brain biopsy or surgical resection of the tumour is not possible due to the location of the tumour or other constraints.

“Through this technology, a diagnosis of inaccessible tumours can become possible through a risk-free and patient-friendly blood test.

“We believe this would be a world-first as there are currently no non-invasive or non-radiological tests for these types of tumours.”

As news of this development continues to unfold, the prospect of a less invasive, more cost-effective, and quicker diagnostic process for certain brain cancers is generating optimism within the medical community. The potential for increased survival rates, particularly for those diagnosed with aggressive forms of brain cancer, underscores the transformative impact this blood test could have on the landscape of brain tumour diagnosis and treatment.

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Woodley BioReg

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