In July 2018, The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research announced Dan Landau, MD, PhD of Weill Cornell Medical College as the first recipient of an ASPIRE Award. Dr. Landau’s project will determine the feasibility of developing a highly sensitive platform for early detection of cancer through the measurement of tumor DNA in a patient’s blood. This “liquid biopsy” approach could serve as a surrogate for patient imaging scans, which can sometimes be inconclusive, or tumor biopsies, which are invasive. Using sequencing information from cell-free DNA obtained from patient plasma samples, Dr. Landau’s team of biologists, physician scientists, data analysts and engineers will look broadly across the genome for relevant mutations as well as ascertain patterns and trends that are hallmarks of cancer. These efforts will be conducted by Asaf Zviran, PhD a postdoctoral fellow in the Landau lab who is trained in physics and electrical engineering. Dr. Landau’s project holds the promise to overcome current barriers to accurately diagnosing cancer when tumors are very small and only minute amounts of tumor DNA are available in the quantities of blood that can be taken from a patient.
Click here to learn more about The Mark Foundation’s ASPIRE Awards.