The UK is partnering with a California healthcare company to test a simple blood test in hopes it may detect some 50 kinds of early-stage cancers.
The Galleri multi-cancer screening test being developed by the Menlo Park-based company GRAIL will be tried out by 165,000 people in Britain beginning in mid-2021, reports CNN.
Results of that pilot program are expected by 2023.
“Early detection — particularly for hard-to-treat conditions like ovarian and pancreatic cancer — has the potential to save many lives,” said Simon Stevens, who heads the UK’s National Health Service.
GRAIL’s research into early cancer detection has been backed by investments from Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, according to the company website.
But some experts doubt if the screening test’s effectiveness.
“The Galleri blood test is a test that might be able to detect cancer in the blood in individuals with early cancer, though the evidence that it does this effectively is weak,” Paul Pharoah, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, said in an interview with the Science Media Centre.
“The NHS should not be investing in such a test before it has been adequately evaluated in well-conducted, large-scale clinical trials.”