Delfi Diagnostics, a well-funded startup in the burgeoning field of creating blood tests to detect cancer, said on Monday that it is launching a new test, FirstLook Lung, to try to identify people who could most benefit from lung cancer screening.
The approach represents a new one in the field of liquid biopsy, in which DNA fragments in blood are used to detect or learn about tumors. Grail, another company developing a blood test for cancer screening, has insisted that its product would be best used to detect multiple cancers at once. Other companies, including Exact Sciences and Freenome, are developing tests that would focus on detecting colorectal cancer. But Delfi appears to be the first to focus first on lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death.
Delfi’s executives, in an interview with STAT, were clear that they view the initial launch as an opportunity to gather information, and not a real commercial coming out. The test will likely become available in limited ways with specific partners and will not initially be covered by insurance. Delfi declined to reveal a specific price, but said that its early access customers, which it is not yet disclosing, will be able to use FirstLook Lung for several hundred dollars. Such a rollout does not require approval from the Food and Drug Administration, which Delfi does not have.