Healthcare company GRAIL has introduced a research-use-only (RUO) methylation-based technology to advance cancer research in the post-diagnosis setting.

Designed for biopharmaceutical companies, the new technology solution uses the firm’s targeted methylation platform to analyse cell-free DNA (cfDNA) isolated from peripheral blood for cancer signal interrogation.

Its potential research use cases consist of prognosis, minimal residual disease detection and recurrence monitoring in various types of cancer research studies.

The RUO technology solution can estimate tumour burden based on methyl variant allele fraction (MVAF), thereby enabling longitudinal solutions for monitoring and surveillance.

According to the company, data from GRAIL studies have shown analytically validated performance as well as analytical sensitivity, specificity and precision.

With the blood-only liquid biopsy approach, challenges with obtaining tissue samples can be eliminated and bias due to tumour heterogeneity or tumour escape mechanisms can also be avoided.

Furthermore, the low input requirements enable retrospective research studies.

GRAIL CEO Bob Ragusa said: “GRAIL’s unique methylation technology and bioinformatics capabilities are well suited for circulating tumour DNA analysis across the cancer continuum.

“We are excited to further leverage our methylation platform and introduce our RUO technology solution for cancer prognosis, minimal residual disease, and recurrence monitoring and biomarker discovery.

“The new technology solution has the versatility to be used in solid tumour research and can be customised to improve performance in specific use cases, including custom classifier development.”

GRAIL aims to use next-generation sequencing, population-scale clinical studies, and computer and data science to develop a multi-cancer early detection blood test and improve the scientific understanding of cancer biology.