The Race to Diagnose Cancer With a Simple Blood Test

By Ron Wislow

Liquid biopsies could transform cancer care as we know it.

Five years ago, a team of researchers pored over the results of a prenatal genetic test given to more than 125,000 healthy pregnant women and made a stunning discovery. The blood test, marketed by gene-sequencing giant Illumina, was designed to detect chromosome anomalies associated with conditions such as Down syndrome by analyzing fragments of fetal DNA circulating in the mother’s blood.

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Illustration by Eric Peterson

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