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Grail, the company that has raised $1.6 billion to develop a blood test to detect cancer early, announced Monday that it has settled on a method for its test and enrolled 115,000 patients in two large clinical trials. A third study, with 50,000 patients, has already begun.

The San Francisco-based startup, spun out of DNA sequencing giant Illumina in 2016, previously presented data on three different approaches to detect cancer using DNA circulating in the blood. One used DNA sequencing to look at specific regions of genes; a second used the technology to sequence the entire genomes of cells floating in patients’ bloodstreams; and a third looked at methylation, an epigenetic change across the whole genome.


Grail said in a statement that it has settled on the third method, which uses methylation to detect cancer and identify where in the body it started.

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