Thursday, November 18, 2010

Respiragene Test and CT Screening for Lung Cancer?

I absolutely think it is beyond fantastic to be able to say to a patient "This is the drug for you"

Or, we need to screen for disease X because of Gene Y and your family history

But what I don't love is companies purporting the import of their special home brew test to do personalized medicine without any sort of data backing them up.

A news report and "AACR Feature" highlighted precisely that. A test with no data......

From the article:

Researchers administered a gene-based predisposition test that incorporates 20 genetic markers associated with smoking-related lung damage and propensity to lung cancer along with clinical factors including age, family history and diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to derive a risk score on a 1 to 12 scale with higher scores correlating with higher risk.

Ok, new score with 20 markers, family history and age and clinical data....sounds reasonable. Has anyone else validated this tool????

Ahem. Crickets.....

“At scores of 6 or more … only 25 percent of otherwise eligible smokers would be screened but over half of lung cancers would potentially be detected, many in a treatable stage,” concluded Young and colleagues, who suggested that increasing the detection rate of lung cancer per number of patients screened could improve the cost-effectiveness of CT screening.

Ok, so did you get the jump? Did you catch it? "Who Suggested"

This guy who designed a genetic panel AND NEVER TESTED IT IN CONJUNCTION WITH CT CHEST SCREENING, is suggesting that using the test could increase the cost effectiveness of CT Screening, without one single solitary IOTA or shred of evidence of this.

This would be the same Dr. Young who found that genetic testing for a smoking cessation program likely doesn't have cost effectiveness or at best is uncertain.

Last year they were still researching this panel

Yet Respiragene is being held up as a great test!

One word that makes me suspicious is the word "Testamonials"

That word alone reminds me of the time I was bamboozled into going to multi level marketing events for proton pills and the like. You know, they all had lots of "Research" behind them.

Put simply, we do not know if gene screening PRIOR to CT Chest screening for lung cancer does any of the following things

1. Make CT Screening more cost effective

2. Personalizes medicine, targeting radiation to only those who need the test

3. Improves outcomes and detection rates of lung cancer.

That research is not available today. Nor will it be in one year.

My Advice, hold off on this one for now.

The Sherpa Says: Parroting an esteemed researchers OPINION as if it were scientific fact is a great way to get yourself in trouble and an even greater way to confuse the community! But it is the best way to get a test sold.


Keith Grimaldi said...

OK I'm not sure about the evidence, the validation and so on, maybe there is some, maybe not. It depends what standards of validation you are looking for (for example that Eng study did NOT validate family history).

However I think on this one you may be barking up the right tree - the clincher for me is "testimonials"...

Keith Grimaldi said...

Wow: A Respiragene™ test costs $700...seems a bit pricey for 20 SNPs and a 1 page report