A blood test that detects nine compounds in blood may offer a safe way to diagnose early cases of lung cancer, Celera Corporation reported on Tuesday.


Photomicrograph of tissue showing lung cancer, magnified 40 times. REUTERS/Newscom

Such a test would allow quick treatment of lung cancer, which is usually not detected before it has spread, Celera, a newly independent division of Applera Corp. said in a statement.

This is one of the most promising assays I've seen as a predictor of non-small cell lung cancer, Dr. Harvey Pass of the New York University Langone Medical Center, who helped test the diagnostic, said in a statement.

The researchers tested people who had been diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer, which can often be cured, and found it detected the cancer with more than 90 percent accuracy.

The test uses a mass spectrometer to detect the nine compounds in the blood. They are also working on a simpler test that looks for six compounds, the researchers told the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer in San Francisco.

Overall, they tested 103 patients with non-small-cell-lung cancer and smokers without the disease.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death globally, killing 1.2 million people a year. Most cases are diagnosed after the cancer has spread from the lung, when it cannot be cured.

Maryland-based Celera, founded by gene pioneer Craig Venter as a genetic discovery company, has re-branded itself as a maker of diagnostic tests.