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  • Philip Osadebay - Tech Journalist

A "breakthrough" blood test developed by UK scientists may be able to identify brain cancers

Scientists in the UK are embarking on studies to explore the capabilities of a revolutionary "liquid biopsy" blood test designed to identify specific types of brain cancer. Termed the TriNetra-Glio, this test, developed by Datar Cancer Genetics. The primary objective of this innovative test is to isolate cells that have detached from the tumor and entered the bloodstream, presenting a non-invasive alternative to the invasive and perilous surgical procedures currently employed in diagnosing certain brain tumors.

Referred to as a "liquid biopsy," the TriNetra-Glio blood test holds promise in reducing the necessity for invasive surgeries, consequently mitigating risks associated with such procedures. This approach could also pave the way for earlier diagnoses, a critical factor that could significantly accelerate the initiation of treatment and in turn, increase survival rates particularly for patients grappling with some of the most formidable forms of brain cancer.

Swift and accurate diagnoses facilitated by this blood test could empower these individuals to commence treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy at the earliest possible. This proactive approach could potentially enhance treatment outcomes and overall prognosis for patients facing the challenges of inoperable brain tumors.

The TriNetra-Glio blood test has undergone preliminary studies led by researchers at the Brain Tumour Research Centre, overseen by Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. These initial investigations sought to evaluate the test's efficacy in accurately diagnosing glial tumors, a category encompassing glioblastoma (GBM), the most prevalent high-grade brain tumor in adults, along with astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.

The research findings indicate that the TriNetra-Glio test exhibits "high analytical sensitivity, specificity, and precision," as detailed in a study published in the International Journal of Cancer. The positive outcomes from these initial studies have propelled scientists to pursue larger-scale trials in the UK, with the aim of validating and further refining the test's diagnostic capabilities.

Dr. Nelofer Syed, leading the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Imperial, emphasizes the critical importance of a non-invasive and cost-effective method for early brain tumor detection. She envisions a future where this technology can offer a risk-free and patient-friendly alternative to traditional brain biopsies or surgical resections, particularly in cases where these procedures may be impractical due to tumor location or other constraints.

Brain Tumour Research acknowledges the significance of these findings, particularly considering the grim prognosis associated with glioblastoma (GBM). With less than 1% of GBM patients surviving beyond ten years and many facing a prognosis as brief as twelve months, the TriNetra-Glio blood test offers a ray of hope for advancing diagnostic methodologies and potentially altering the trajectory for patients battling these challenging brain cancers.

 As researchers embark on larger trials to validate its effectiveness, the prospect of an inexpensive and patient-friendly diagnostic tool could reshape the landscape of brain cancer care within the next two years, offering newfound hope for patients and healthcare professionals alike.


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