A Bengaluru-based company, Strand Life Sciences, on Tuesday introduced a new technique to test blood, which it claims will allow doctors to detect a wide range of cancers at a much lower cost than those available in the United States. The liquid biopsy test “STRAND LB” will decode genetic information and help doctors ascertain suitable treatment for patients based on the type of cancer they have.

Strand claims its test has a number of benefits over traditional methods of detecting cancerous tumours – that it is minimally-invasive, can find evidence of tumours in places surgeons cannot access and also help detect signs of recurrence early. The company’s technique involves capturing the DNA fragments shed by normal and cancerous cells into the blood stream, which helps detect the presence of solid cancerous tumours.

“The technique helps to create personalised cancer treatment plans for each patient. It can also provide insights to assess whether a patient is prone to a relapse and if a person is likely to respond to therapy or not”, said Dr Sharat Damodar, heme-oncologist and clinical director at the Biocon-run Mazumdar Shaw Medical Centre, which collaborated with the company on the test.

The blood test will be sold for $310 (around Rs 20,000), while the diagnostics used in the US cost more than $3,000 (nearly Rs 2 lakh). CEO of Strand Life Sciences Ramesh Hariharan told Reuters that some two lakh of the 15 lakh cancer patients in India will be able to afford this product.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested around the world to develop a blood test that identifies cancer in its early stage in people who show no symptoms of the disease.