Shenzhen-based BGI, China’s top gene-sequencing provider, said they had developed two screening technologies for early cancer detection at a press conference.
One technology can detect the gene mutation and methylation level of circulating tumor DNA in blood plasma, thus evaluating the risk of various cancers including lung, liver, ovarian, pancreatic and colorectal cancers, according to Zhu Shida, BGI’s oncology consultant.
However, this screening technology is difficult for wide clinical use due to high costs, and it is more suitable for some high-risk groups.
The other technology, with lower cost, specifically focuses on the early screening of colorectal cancer, one of the most common cancers in China.
The previous study results, based on a small sample size, showed that both of these two screening technologies have more than 80 percent sensitivity in detecting colorectal cancer from a blood test, the company said.
Zhu said they need a larger sample size to verify and optimize the performance of the technologies, continuing to expand clinical tests and promoting sensitivity.
Ding Peirong, a colorectal surgeon with the Cancer Center of Sun Yat-Sen University, said the two screening technologies will make the early detection of cancers more convenient, but a colonoscopy is still the most effective way to screen for colorectal cancer.
“BGI’s new technologies need more research and tests,” Ding added.
China has long been mired in the fight against cancer. About 2.34 million people died of cancer in 2015, and cancer deaths in China grew by 2.5 percent year on year for over a decade up to 2015, said China’s latest cancer epidemic report released by the National Cancer Center.
BGI, founded in 1999, specializes in the research of genomics in healthcare, agriculture and environmental sectors.