Mission to Detect Cancer Earlier

Dr. Brian Mannion, Medical Director at The Christ Hospital and Dr. Philip Leming, Medical Director of Cancer Research and Clinical Trials, consult on new treatment options.

Photo provided by The Christ Hospital


The Christ Hospital Health Network has joined a national clinical trial that could lead to new ways to detect cancer early, making treatment easier and saving lives. First-class medical centers around the nation are collaborating in one of the largest clinical study programs ever pursued in genomic medicine – customized medical care to your body’s unique genetic makeup.

Early diagnosis of cancer results in significantly higher survival rates compared to late-stage diagnosis. However, effective screening only exists for a few cancer types, and most cancer is detected in later stages when survival rates are much lower. Extensive research suggests that cancer may be directly detectable with DNA shed by tumors into the bloodstream. However, developing an effective early detection test that distinguishes between people with and without cancer is complex.

In partnership with GRAIL, a life sciences company devoted to early detection of cancer and funded by investors that include Bill Gates and GV (formerly Google Ventures), The Christ Hospital is providing access to the Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas (CCGA) study.  It will enroll at least 7,000 cancer patients and 3,000 healthy individuals, analyzing the biology of both tumor biopsy tissue samples and the circulating, tumor-derived nucleic acids in blood. Circulating tumor nucleic acids (ctNAs) in the blood are an emerging biomarker for earlier cancer detection. The trial will provide a foundation for the development of a blood test to detect cancer early and also provides a unique opportunity for people, both healthy and with cancer, to participate in an impactful initiative to fight cancer.

The Christ Hospital and its collaborators will collect clinical outcomes on the enrolled participants for at least five years. The result will be a detailed atlas of cancer genetics that GRAIL will use to support its product development goals, including a blood test to detect cancer. Study participants will fill out a health questionnaire, give blood samples and allow access to their health records for five years. Patients with cancer will allow the collection of their tumor tissue.

The study spans five years so it can follow test subjects who develop cancer during that time. “The goal is to develop a test to detect cancer early, before symptoms appear. To do this we need a vast amount of tumor genomic data from healthy and sick individuals,” says Dr. Philip Leming, principal investigator of the CCGA study and medical oncologist at The Christ Hospital. “This is a great opportunity for local Cincinnatians to make a difference in the fight against cancer.”

The Cancer Center at The Christ Hospital is committed to beating cancer with a focus on precision medicine—care tailored to each individual and their condition. Physicians are specialized in treating specific types of cancer and ground-breaking technology offers highly targeted therapy without surgery.

“It’s exciting to see The Christ hospital team lead the way in this important genomic medicine trial, having been one of a handful of centers chosen to participate,” Dr. Leming says.


For more information on the Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas study, call 513.585.1777 or email Lindner@thechristhospital.com.