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Top 10 Precision Oncology Articles in 2021: Liquid Biopsy, Difficult Reimbursement, TMB Debates

NEW YORK – Stories about liquid biopsy testing to detect cancer early or guide therapy decisions grabbed the interest of Precision Oncology News readers in 2021.

In fact, five out of the 10 most read stories this year had to do with the non-invasive diagnostic technology. Readers were particularly interested in Grail's launch of its multi-cancer early detection blood test, called Galleri, in June. The company supported the test launch with data from the prospective PATHFINDER trial, which showed a 45 percent positive predictive value for an earlier version of the liquid biopsy assay and demonstrated its ability to detect cancers across 13 tumor types, often in early stages of disease and before symptoms arose in patients.

Grail presented the PATHFINDER data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting, where many of its competitors also reported evidence on their early detection liquid biopsy platforms. Our story from the meeting highlighting data from Guardant Health, Delfi Diagnostics, and several companies outside the US in the early detection liquid biopsy space ranked among the top-read features this year.

Outside of liquid biopsy testing, readers continued to be interested in companies approaching precision oncology in new ways, such as Engine Bioscience, a firm developing cancer drugs using a platform that incorporates combinatorial genetics and the CRISPR-Cas9 system, and EQRx, a biotechnology firm that aims to efficiently develop drugs in crowded, high-cost markets and compete on price.

We received much positive reader feedback on a deeply reported story on the ongoing difficult reimbursement environment for large genetic test panels used to guide therapy decisions — a challenge that is likely to continue for cancer patients in 2022. And lastly, tumor mutational burden — a biomarker which oncologists can use to help prescribe pembrolizumab (Merck's Keytruda) to refractory cancer patients regardless of tumor type — continued to spark controversy this year. However, the field remains intrigued by the prospect of biomarker-guided drugs that can be prescribed in a pan-tumor fashion, as evidenced by readers' interest in data suggesting that Eli Lilly's selpercatinib (Retevmo) may have activity in a wide range of tumor types.

Here are the 10 most popular stories published in Precision Oncology News:

  1. Engine Biosciences Closes $43M Series A Round
  1. EQRx to go Public on Nasdaq Through $1.8B SPAC Deal With CM Life Sciences III
  1. Grail Launches Galleri Cancer Early Detection Test, Backed by First PATHFINDER Interventional Data
  1. Guardant Health Sues Natera for False Advertising, 'Misleading' Oncologists About MRD Tests
  1. Grail Cancer Early Detection Test Performance Holds Steady as Q2 Launch Approaches
  1. Oncologists, Patients Still Face Unpredictable Payor Coverage for Broad Tissue NGS Panels
  1. New Liquid Biopsy Data at ASCO Highlights Commercial Push Into Early Cancer Detection
  1. Oncologists Look to FDA as New Publications Poke Holes in TMB-High Keytruda Approval
  1. AACR Study of Eli Lilly's Retevmo Shows Anti-Tumor Activity Across Cancers
  1. Grail Inks Deals With Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb for MRD Test Development