Why This Is Important
While there isn’t yet an absolute way of eradicating cancer, early detection is the best solution we have, at least for now.
There are current screening options such as colonoscopies for colorectal cancer and mammograms for breast cancer that do save lives. Yet even with these options, the cancer death rate alone is a clear indicator that not everyone gets screened in time.
Hence, the focus is on developing accessible tests to detect cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.
Freenome is developing next-generation blood tests for early cancer detection, leveraging AI and powered by a multiomics platform. The company uses a combination of genomic and clinical data to develop blood tests for the early detection of various cancers. Freenome aims to detect cancer earlier and make cancer screening more accessible through standard blood tests.
The blood tests Freenome offers are being developed using a multiomics platform, which combines deep expertise in molecular biology and machine learning to identify cancer-associated patterns among billions of circulating biomarkers from tumor and non-tumor-derived sources.
Freenome’s technology analyzes circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) to identify patterns and mutations associated with cancer. The goal is to detect cancer at an early stage when treatment may be more effective. The company’s approach involves applying advanced computational techniques to large-scale genomic datasets.
Freenome’s ultimate goal is to discover the earliest warning signs and develop accessible tests to detect cancer in its most treatable stages. They also partner with health systems to integrate actionable insights and create a feedback loop between care and science.
More on Freenome
Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) refers to small fragments of DNA that circulate freely in the bloodstream. These DNA fragments are released into the blood when cells in the body undergo programmed cell death (apoptosis) or necrosis. The presence of cfDNA in the bloodstream is a normal physiological phenomenon.
In the context of medical research and diagnostics, cfDNA has gained attention because it can carry genetic information that reflects the genetic makeup of the cells from which it originated. This has implications for various applications, including non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) and cancer detection.
In the case of cancer, tumor cells release DNA into the bloodstream as they undergo cell death or actively shed DNA. Analyzing cfDNA for specific genetic mutations or aberrations associated with cancer can provide insights into the presence and characteristics of tumors. This is the basis for some liquid biopsy techniques, where a blood sample is used to detect and analyze genetic material related to cancer without the need for invasive procedures like tissue biopsies.
Freenome and similar biotechnology companies use advanced genomic sequencing and machine learning algorithms to analyze the genetic information carried by cfDNA in the bloodstream and identify patterns that may indicate the presence of cancer or other health conditions. This approach is part of the broader field of liquid biopsy, which aims to revolutionize cancer diagnostics and monitoring.Freenome focuses on identifying specific genetic mutations, alterations, or patterns associated with various types of cancers at the earliest stages.
Using Liquid Biopsy
Freenome’s liquid biopsy approach offers a non-invasive alternative to traditional tissue biopsies for cancer diagnosis and monitoring. Liquid biopsies using cfDNA provide a means for monitoring cancer progression and treatment response over time. The technology is designed to provide insights into cancer presence, subtype, and potential treatment options based on the genetic information obtained from cfDNA.
Freenome’s Multiomics Technology Platform
Freenome uses advanced multiomics to analyze the blood comprehensive for tumor and non-tumor signals, machine learning algorithms to classify and detect patterns of cancer, and a real-world data feedback loop to improve test and outcomes.
Using a multiomics approach (genomics, preoteomics, transcriptomics and other omics) is important because biological signals indicating the presence of cancer can differ by cancer stage. Tumor-derived signals, such as DNA shed by the tumor, are typically more abundant in later stages of cancer. However, non-tumor-derived signals from the tumor’s microenvironment, such as proteins from the immune system or from tissues surrounding the tumor, may contribute more significantly in earlier stages of cancer.
Also there are over 100 different types of cancer with widely varying biological signals that indicate the presence of those cancers and the amount of DNA shed by different cancer types varies by orders of magnitude. As a result, only leveraging cfDNA is likely insufficient to detect a wide range of cancers in their earliest stages.
Freenome’s multiomics platform looks beyond tumor signals by comprehensively analyzing the blood and looking across multiple levels of biology to look at both tumor-derived and non-tumor-derived signals, deriving billions of data points.
Freenome uses advanced computational techniques and machine learning to identify complex patterns of cancer among the data points resulting from multiomics analysis. These algorithms are trained to distinguish and identify signals that are originating from cancer cells, thus enabling the detection of potential malignancies. This multiomics approach makes it easier to find any possible cancer signal at the earliest possible stages.
Integrated Computational Analysis
Freenome integrates computational analysis into its platform, allowing for a comprehensive and data-driven approach to cancer diagnostics. The combination of multiomics analyses, machine learning, and computational analysis enhances the sensitivity and specificity of cancer detection at a stage before symptoms manifest and when treatment is more likely to be effective with likely more favorable outcomes.
Partnerships and Collaborations
Freenome pursues a variety of partnerships across the healthcare ecosystem with the goal of ultimately improving care. Freenome may engage in research collaborations with academic institutions, healthcare organizations, and industry partners to further validate and enhance its technologies.
Collaborations with research and medical communities include clinical studies, targeted applications of our multiomics platform, and quality improvement initiatives that contribute to the development and validation of Freenome’s cancer detection platform and expanding access to patients. Freenome’s targeted partnerships include:
- Biopharma Partners: Working with Biopharma companies to leverage our platform’s capabilities and develop targeted therapies through biomarker discovery, treatment monitoring, predicting treatment response, minimal residual disease (MRD) detection, multi-omics data generation in new disease areas.
- Research Partners: Working with healthcare ecosystem partners—from academic institutions to healthcare systems, providers, health plans—to advance early detection technology for patients and ensure that tests are integrated into clinical care.
- Advocacy Partners: Working with various organizations to further access to early testing and screening for more timely interventions when necessary.
Clinical Validity and Evidence
The colorectal cancer (CRC) blood test by Freenome is currently being validated through PREEMPT CRC®, the largest clinical study validating a blood-based colorectal screening test.
According to available studies (National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, SEER program), almost 4 in 10 people who are eligible for CRC screening don’t get screened.
Freenome seeks to improve this statistic by developing an accessible blood test that makes it easier to get screened and, therefore, detect CRC in its earliest stages. Colorectal cancer is just one of many cancers for which we are developing early detection blood tests.
Knowing there are more than 100 cancers, this makes detection, diagnosis, and treatment not a one-size-fits-all process. That’s why Freenome is developing a tailored approach for multi-cancer screening tests. This ensures each test is optimized for different cancer signals, screening goals, and diagnostic and care pathways to ultimately improve patient outcomes. Freenome is currently enrolling patients for multi-cancer clinical studies across the United States.
According to Freenome, the blood tests are being developed to be easy to administer and fit within routine healthcare.