the lung cancer soon to be diagnosed thanks to a simple blood test? A new research work on early detection has been undertaken by specialists from the University Hospital of nice. Presented by 20 minutes early 2020 and stopped dead in its tracks at the beginning of the health crisis, they will finally be able to resume two years later. At full speed.
Impulsed by a recent opinion of the High Authority for Health (HAS) which “promotes the launch of experiments” aimed at better detecting this disease that kills more than 33,000 people a year in France, Professor Paul Hofman and his team will relaunch a much larger study, they announced, confirming information from beautiful morning.
A previous process “not sensitive enough”
In association with the National Cancer Institute and the Swedish-British pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, it will cover 2,600 people throughout the country and will allow the evaluation of a test that the researchers hope will be “much more sensitive”. The previous one, tested between October 2015 and February 2017 on 614 volunteers from the Côte d’Azur, people at risk, smokers and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), “was not good enough”, admits Professor Paul Hofman, questioned by twenty Minutes.
“If it was positive, we were sure there was cancer. On the other hand, some patients still developed the disease when it was negative, ”she specifies. In conclusion, this screening aimed at detecting circulating tumor cells, using a technique called isolation by size of epithelial tumor cells (ISET), was ultimately “not adequate,” according to an article published in August 2020 in the scientific journal. the lancet.
In search of “cancer biomarkers”
Since then, the Nice team has come a long way. From the hand of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, a state-of-the-art American institution based in Houston, Texas. “With them we have developed a more manageable, much cheaper test -about 40 euros instead of the 450 of the previous one- and that above all should be much more efficient”, explains Paul Hofman again. “You’re looking for biomarkers of cancer, the signature of a protein secreted by circulating tumor cells,” he explains.
With these blood tests, researchers want to do better and faster than radiological tests alone. “The size of some nodules makes them very difficult to see. The objective of our tests is, of course, to be able to detect cancers as early as possible in order to have a better chance of treating them”, indicates the head of the Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Pathology at Nice University Hospital.
Artificial intelligence put to use
The 2,600 candidates, who will be recruited mainly from a network of general practitioners, will have to take a blood sample and undergo a chest scan. To compare the results and allow data crossing. All will be included in the algorithm of a artificial intelligence (AI) developed by mathematicians from the Inria center in Sophia-Antipolisin the hope of further fine-tuning diagnostics.
The experiment should be able to launch around June, Professor Paul Hofman hopes, as soon as the ethics committee gives the green light. It will take two years to complete the panel and five years in total to complete the study. If their results are conclusive, the Nice team hopes to achieve a screening that is reimbursed by Social Security and, therefore, widely used. As is particularly the case with colorectal cancer.