Exact Sciences partners with MD Anderson for lung cancer detection test

Exact Sciences partners with MD Anderson for lung cancer detection test

Exact Sciences Corp., which makes a non-invasive test for detecting colon cancer, will announce Thursday an agreement with a major cancer center that will help the company expand into early detection of lung cancer.

The collaboration is between Exact and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which has done extensive research with biological substances for predicting lung cancer. The partnership will build upon MD Anderson’s research and Exact’s successful development and commercialization of Cologuard, the only FDA-approved, non-invasive colon cancer screening test, Exact and MD Anderson said.

The agreement is a model for companies that are trying to get innovations from the lab to patients because it’s a collaborative rather than licensing relationship, said Kevin Conroy, Exact’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Madison-based Exact and MD Anderson hope to start a clinical trial “within the next couple of years,” he said.

“Our common vision is to help win the war on cancer through early detection,” Conroy said.

“Lung cancer is, and will continue to be, America’s leading cancer killer unless we identify new approaches to diagnose it early, at its most treatable stages,” said Sam Hanash, director of MD Anderson’s Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer.

There will be about 221,200 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed and 158,000 deaths from the disease in 2015, according to American Cancer Society estimates. More than half of all lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when only about 2% of patients survive for five years, Conroy said. But when the disease is detected early, five-year survival rates soar to about 70%, he said.

“Early detection can lead to years and years of life expectancy, and potentially even a cure,” Conroy said.

Hospitals have been implementing CT, or CAT scan-based screening programs since Medicare began in February paying for them for patients with high risk for lung cancer. But the scans have a 25% false positive rate and follow-on diagnostics and procedures can cost more than $3,000 and result in cancer being found in only 4% of these cases, Conroy said.
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