Exact Sciences working on new lung cancer screening and diagnostic tests

Madison-based Exact Sciences Corp. and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced an agreement to develop and sell blood-based screening and diagnostic tests for the early detection of lung cancer.

The collaboration seeks to build upon MD Anderson’s extensive research into predictive biomarkers for lung cancer and Exact Sciences’ successful development and commercialization of Cologuard, the only FDA-approved, non-invasive stool-based DNA colon cancer screening test. The two groups plan to develop a groundbreaking new blood test that targets biomarkers associated with lung cancer.

The collaboration specifically aims at developing a blood-based lung cancer screening test to determine the need for low-dose computed tomography (LDCT). This test would offer the opportunity to screen nearly 11 million Americans considered high-risk smokers and former smokers. The partnership is also aimed at developing a diagnostic test to determine the malignant status of nodules found through LDCT screening. This test would be valuable to nearly 4 million Americans diagnosed with lung nodules each year.

The American Cancer Society estimates that lung cancer will be diagnosed in 221,200 Americans and cause 158,040 deaths in the United States this year. Currently, more than half of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, after symptoms appear, when the five-year survival rate is in the low single digits. If detected at an early stage, lung cancer’s five-year survival rate can be as high as 80%.