Asia-Pacific Biotech News

Revolutionising Cancer Care With Precision Oncology

In recent years, precision oncology has positioned itself at the forefront of cancer treatment. How has Guardant Health utilised its proprietary digital sequencing technologies to support patients at every stage of their cancer journey?

by Simranjit Singh

A staggering one in four people in Singapore may develop cancer in their lifetime and this dreaded disease is currently the leading cause of death in this country. When we compare this statistic to the rest of the world, cancer is a leading cause of death in 112 countries across the globe, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020 alone. As a result, many of us would have had the experience of an acquaintance, friend, or family member either being diagnosed with cancer or succumbing to the disease.

Fortunately, due to rapid advancements in cancer care, precision oncology can help to optimise outcomes so that patients with cancer can live longer, healthier lives.


Precision Oncology at the Forefront of Cancer Treatment

Some of the best innovations in the battle against cancer can be found in the field of precision oncology. Potentially life-changing precision medicine has quickly positioned itself at the forefront of cancer treatment thanks to next-generation sequencing (NGS) tests for cancer biomarkers such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved comprehensive genomic profiling tests, which allow doctors to look at the current genomic profile of a patient’s cancer and recommend appropriate treatment.

Precision oncology companies, such as Guardant Health AMEA, have discovered that key insights about a patient’s cancer across all stages of the disease can be found by analysing circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in the blood, which is produced when tumours shed small pieces of their genetic material into the bloodstream.

Today, Guardant Health has successfully tapped into its proprietary digital sequencing technologies to produce a full product suite of tests for patients at every stage of cancer from early stage to advanced stage cancer as well as detecting minimal residual disease and treatment response monitoring. The precision oncology company has also developed a cancer screening test to find cancer at its earliest and most treatable.


How Liquid Biopsies are Revolutionising the Continuum of Cancer Care

Blood-based NGS tests such as the Guardant360® test are helping to identify patients with advanced-stage cancer who are eligible to receive potentially life-changing targeted therapies. This was the first blood test to be approved by the U.S. FDA for comprehensive genomic profiling for all solid tumours and it is now FDA-approved as a companion diagnostic test for four targeted therapies in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and one in advanced breast cancer. Actionable biomarkers detected in the solid cancers of patients by Guardant’s liquid biopsy test are matched to appropriate precision medicine which may result in better patient outcomes.

The Guardant360 test has become widely accepted for blood-based comprehensive genomic profiling, with more than 400 peer-reviewed publications. It has been trusted by more than 12,000 oncologists, with more than 300,000 tests performed to date, and is broadly covered by Medicare and many private payers in the U.S., representing over 300 million lives. In our efforts to revolutionise the continuum of cancer care and transform cancer screening, Guardant Health launched the ShieldTM test in the U.S. in May last year to detect early signs of colorectal cancer (CRC) in average-risk adults aged 45 and older who are not up to date with recommended screening guidelines and show no symptoms for CRC. This blood-based cancer screening test will be available for oncologists to order in July this year in over 40 countries in Asia (including Singapore), the Middle East, and Africa. The company recently announced positive results from the pivotal ECLIPSE (Evaluation of ctDNA LUNAR Assay In an Average Patient Screening Episode) study, an over 20,000-patient registrational study evaluating the performance of its blood test for detecting colorectal cancer in average-risk adults.

The Shield test demonstrated 83 percent sensitivity in detecting individuals with CRC and specificity was 90 percent in both individuals without advanced neoplasia and in those who had a negative colonoscopy result. In March this year, Guardant Health submitted its premarket approval application to the U.S. FDA for the Shield blood test to screen for CRC. At Guardant Health, we believe that an accurate, easy-to-complete, blood-based approach to cancer screening can help overcome barriers to traditional screening modalities.

For recurrence monitoring of patients with earlystage colorectal, breast or lung cancer, Guardant Health offers Guardant RevealTM, which is a liquid biopsy test for residual disease detection. By combining genomic and epigenomic signals, the test detects ctDNA in blood after surgery to identify patients with residual disease and to monitor for the recurrence of cancer in previously diagnosed patients. Guardant Reveal is the first blood-only test that is able to detect residual and recurrent disease in two weeks, without the need for a tissue biopsy.

Lastly, for patients with advanced-stage cancer, Guardant’s blood test is helping to predict patient response to treatment sooner than standard radiographic assessment. Our Guardant360 ResponseTM test is the first blood-only test that enables doctors to track molecular response through changes in ctDNA levels, to get an early indication of metastatic or advanced cancer patient response to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. This test gives oncologists an important tool to use when considering whether to continue, stop, or explore other treatment options for their patients with late-stage or metastatic cancer.


Tackling Singapore’s Leading Cancer Types

According to the Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report, over 23,600 people in Singapore were diagnosed with cancer and there were slightly over 12,000 cancerrelated deaths in 2020. The most prevalent cancer types among men and women in Singapore include breast (15.5 percent), colorectal (15.1 percent) and lung (12.3 percent) cancer. Guardant Health aims to be a onestop precision oncology company that can help guide treatment decisions for early-stage cancer, advancedstage cancer, minimal residual disease detection, recurrence monitoring, treatment response monitoring as well as cancer screening. Ultimately, we hope to be able to provide these comprehensive genomic profiling tests for patients with cancer across the cancer care continuum and help improve patient outcomes. [APBN]

About the Author

Simranjit Singh is the CEO of Guardant Health AMEA (GH AMEA), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardant Health, Inc. He has more than 18 years of senior management experience in Asia Pacific working with biopharma, diagnostics, and medical device companies. He leads GH AMEA which is a global leader in precision oncology. GH AMEA’s portfolio of tests which help guide treatment decisions for patients with cancer across the cancer care continuum are available in over 40 different markets across Asia, Middle East & Africa.