Woman donating blood
Woman donating blood and doctor holding the needle while it fills

A new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention by a team of researchers from Yale, USC, UC San Diego, and Epic Sciences show the presence of PD-L1 protein on circulating cells from newly diagnosed lung cancer patient points to poor survival rates for patients not treated with a PD-1 inhibitor. The findings are the first time liquid biopsy has demonstrated evidence of benefit for patients most likely to respond to PD-1 inhibitors.

“We have a major need for non-invasive tests to help identify lung cancer patients who will benefit from PD-1 inhibitors,” said Daniel Boffa, M.D., associate professor of surgery at Yale and lead author of the study. “Demonstrating that a blood test can identify PD-L1 protein expression on circulating cells and showing that this is associated with poor outcomes is an essential step to utilizing a liquid biopsy test for clinical decision making.”

The researchers employed Epic Sciences’ novel PD-L1 blood test on 112 patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer. Patients were followed for up to four years, with the analysis demonstrating that PD-L1 expression in blood samples was associated with patients having worse overall survival regardless of clinical staging.

“This study presents the largest examination to-date towards demonstrating clinical utility of a non-invasive PD-L1 blood test for advanced lung cancer,” said Ryan Dittamore, vice president of translational research and clinical affairs, Epic Sciences and co-author on the study. “We are rapidly accelerating our clinical development of the PD-L1 blood test and other immune-oncology liquid biopsy tests to meet this important medical need.”

The PD-L1 blood test described in the publication incorporates single-cell, automated analysis of circulating tumor cells from a patient blood sample. The Epic Sciences PD-L1 blood test is being prospectively analyzed in multiple clinical trials for response to PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors in multiple clinical indications.

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