Bengaluru: According to data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India is projected to have 17.3 lakhs new cases of cancer reported in 2020 and over 8.8 lakhs patients are expected to die from the disease. To counter this large burden and rapid increase in incidence and persistence of the high mortality rate of 50%, there is a strong need for better ways to diagnose, manage, and treat cancer.
In this backdrop, the Strand Life Sciences has announced the launch of their Liquid Biopsy test portfolio ‘STRAND LB’ that provides highly sensitive detection of tumor traces from a simple blood draw. This powerful tool can provide early and precise indication of tumor presence, cancer recurrence, and response to therapy compared to any other method used in the medical industry.
Typically, tumors are assessed through invasive tumor biopsies or through radioactive scans. This latest technique allows earlier assessment with minimal discomfort to patients. “Liquid biopsy is a paradigm shift that involves a minimally-invasive procedure, no radioactive scans, and can detect tumor DNA traces from a simple blood draw. However, detecting tumor DNA requires a highly sensitive test capable of detecting 1 molecule in 1000. Our study on patients spanning a wide variety of cancer types – including lung, colorectal, breast, and bladder cancer – shows that STRAND LB can detect tumor DNA traces in as many as 35% of patients with early-stage cancer, going up to 70-90% in patients with locally advanced or metastatic cancer. These figures are at par with the best in the world”, said Dr Vijay Chandru, Chairman and Managing Director, Strand Life Sciences.
Dr Vijay Chandru and Dr Kiran Mazumdar Shaw at the launch of ‘STRAND LB’ in Bengaluru on April 11, 2017.
The Strand LB tests are an outcome of the collaboration between Scientific teams of Strand and Mazumdar Shaw Center for Translational Research (MSCTR), who worked together to develop these advanced tests which were validated by clinicians at the Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center (MSMC). These non-invasive Liquid Biopsy tests will advance the field of cancer diagnostics, as they offer ultra-sensitive detection of mutations which will help in early detection and intervention. To reflect the collaboration these tests will be made available and offered to all patients at MSMC.
“Innovations like Liquid Biopsy are huge breakthroughs in cancer detection and management. India needs such pioneering innovation in healthcare to foster early detection which can be a great help in bringing down the non-communicable disease (NCD) burden that our country is facing today. I congratulate the scientific teams at Strand and MSCTR as well as doctors at MSMC for this achievement and am sure this cutting edge technology will play a central role in affordable cancer care”, said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon.
Highlighting the clinical benefits of a liquid biopsy, Dr Sharat Damodar, Heme-Oncologist & Clinical Director, Mazumdar Shaw Medical Centre said, “Solid tumors developing on an internal organ can sometimes be hard to access and often require a small surgery to enable sampling. It is even more challenging when the tumor is located deep within the body. On the contrary, a liquid biopsy test requires only a simple blood draw, providing a new way forward in such situations.” The Strand-MSCTR validation study has shown that STRAND LB provides the same information as a solid biopsy across a variety of cancers. STRAND LB can thus identify the ‘genetic signature’ of a person’s cancer, which is much like identifying the fingerprint of a person. “The technique helps to create personalized cancer treatment plans for each patient. It can also provide insights to assess if a patient is prone to a relapse and if a person is likely to respond to therapy or not”, added Dr Damodar.
STRAND LB can be used today for up to 30% of lung cancer patients who have insufficient tumor biopsy material to determine if their tumors carry mutations in genes like EGFR, making them eligible for specific treatments. It can also be used to monitor the very same patients for the emergence of resistance to these treatments. More broadly, STRAND LB can be used across a variety of cancer types (breast, colorectal and others), to determine if traces of the tumor too small to be visible either to the naked eye or to imaging scans remain after surgery, thus prompting more aggressive treatment. STRAND LB can also be used to monitor response to treatment and detect relapse early in instances where switching treatments is a possibility.
“The biggest challenge with creating STRAND LB is to cater to all the needs above, while providing high sensitivity, strong validation, and low cost. We did so by combining multiple techniques, including those that track single mutations very economically, and those that track tens of genes. By coupling STRAND LB with our internationally established and well-published tumor biopsy test, we can provide a complete and economical tumor monitoring solution for most patients”, said Dr Ramesh Hariharan, CEO Strand Life Sciences.
Strand is known for a range of rigorously validated high-complexity oncology tests that are used both in India and in the US. Strand’s laboratory in India is accredited by the College of American Pathologists for these tests. Strand will offer STRAND LB at Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore and through our network of all major hospitals spread across the country.
Additionally, a team of experts from Tata Memorial Centre Mumbai-Dr Kumar Prabhash, Medical Oncologist, Dr Amit Dutt, Principal investigator-ACTREC and Dr Anuradha Chougule, Scientific Officer provided intellectual input and guidance in validation of the liquid biopsy.