‘Liquid biopsies’ detected cancer
Hope is process can be used to test for other tumor types.
A man rammed his car into a group of soldiers near Paris, injuring six of them, and then was cornered by police in a highway manhunt the latest in what’s become a disturbingly familiar pattern of attacks targeting French security forces.
It’s unclear what motivated the driver, who was hospitalized with bullet wounds after the calculated morning ambush and an hours-long police chase. Authorities said he deliberately accelerated his BMW into a cluster of soldiers in what prosecutors are investigating as a potential terrorist attack.
Preside n t Emmanuel Macron used Twitter to express his “congratulations to the forces of order that apprehended the per- petrator of the attack,” and also to urge continued vig- ilance across the country.
Macron’s government painted the incident in the suburb of Levallois-Perret as proof of the need to approve a new security law that crit- ics contend infringes on liberties and would put France in a permanent state of emer- gency.
Wednesday’s attack caused no deaths and hurt no civil- ians, but still set nerves on edge: It was the seventh attempted attack on security forces guarding France this year alone. While oth- ers have targeted prominent sites like the Eiffel Tower, Wednesday’s attack hit the leafy, relatively affluent suburb of Levallois-Perret that is home to France’s main intel- ligence service, the DGSI, and its counterterrorism service.
know it was a delib- erate act,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said.
Before the attack, the suspect was seen waiting in a black BMW in a cul-de- sac near the Levallois city hall and a building used as a staging point for soldiers in France’s operation to protect prominent sites, according to two police officials.
When a group of soldiers emerged from the building to board a van, the car began to approach, then sped up and rammed into them, hurl- ing the soldiers against the van, one of the officials said.
Authorities checked video surveillance of the area and police fanned out and stopped numerous cars as they the attacker.
Then, on the A16 highway near the English Channel port of Calais, police stopped what Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called the “principal suspect.” Images of the arrest scene showed emer- gency vehicles surrounding a black BMW with a damaged windshield on a cordoned-off highway.
Police officers opened fire during the arrest to subdue the man, who was injured along with an officer hit by a stray police bullet, a judicial official said.
The suspect was hospital- ized, the official said, but his condition wasn’t immediately clear. Authorities have not identified him.
Heavily armed, masked police searched a building believed linked to the attacker in the Paris suburb of Bezons on Wednesday night. searched for
Scientists have the first major evidence that blood tests called liquid biopsies hold promise for screening people for cancer. Hong Kong doctors tried it for a type of head and neck cancer, and boosted early detection and one measure of survival.
The tests detect DNA that tumors shed into the blood. Some are used now to monitor cancer patients, and many companies are trying to develop versions of these for screening, as possible alternatives to mammograms, colonoscopies and other such tests.
The new study shows this approach can work, at least for this one form of cancer and in a country where it’s common.
“This work is very exciting on the larger scale” because it gives a blueprint for how to make tests for other tumor types such as lung or breast, said Dr. Dennis Lo of Chinese University of Hong Kong. “We are brick by brick putting that technology intoplace.”
He led the study, published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine. Lo is best known for discovering that fetal DNA can be found in a mother’s blood, which launched a new era of non-invasive testing for pregnant women.
The study involved naso- pharyngeal cancer, which forms at the top of the throat behind the nose. It’s a good test case for DNA screening because it’s an aggressive cancer where early detection matters a lot, and screen- ing could be tried in a pop- ulation where the cancer is most common: middle-aged Chinese men.
Also, the Epstein-Barr virus is involved in most cases, so tests could hunt for viral DNA that tumors shed into the blood in large quantities, rather than rare bits of cancer cells themselves.
About 20,000 men were screened, and viral DNA was found in 1,112, or 5.5 percent. Of those, 309 also had the DNA on confirmatory tests a month later. After endoscope and MRI exams, 34 turned out to have cancer.
More cases were found at the earliest stage — 71 percent versus only 20 percent of a comparison group of men who had been treated for nasopharyngeal cancer over the previous five years. That’s important because early cases often are cured with radiation alone, but more advanced ones need chemotherapy and treatment is less successful.
Screening also seemed to improve how many survived without worsening disease — 97 percent at three years versus 70 percent of the comparison group.
Only one person who tested negative on screening developed nasopharyngeal cancer within a year.
Theresearchers estimate 593 people would need to be screened at a total cost of $28,600 to identify one cancer case. It may be worth it in Hong Kong, but maybe not in places like the U.S. where the disease is rare, and more people would have to be screened at a greater cost to find each case, said Dr. Richard Ambinder of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who wrote a commentary in the journal.
Still, “this is showing that liquid biopsies have great promise,” he said. “This is an advance that will indeed save lives.”