CORRECTED-Blood test may diagnose lung cancer, company says

Wed Aug 5, 2009 10:43pm EDT

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(Corrects eighth paragraph to show company is now based in California; second paragraph to make clear the company left Applera earlier this year)

WASHINGTON Aug 4 (Reuters) - A blood test that detects nine compounds in blood may offer a safe way to diagnose early cases of lung cancer, Celera Corporation CRA.O reported on Tuesday.

Such a test would allow quick treatment of lung cancer, which is usually not detected before it has spread, Celera, which became independent of Applera Corp. earlier this year, 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.

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

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