Posted November 20, 2014
Maximilian Diehn, M.D., Ph.D., from Stanford University, is a recipient of a Fiscal Year 2011 Lung Cancer Research Program Promising Clinician Research Award.

Maximilian Diehn, M.D., Ph.D. 1. What is the most important thing that stakeholders should know about your research?

We have developed a novel blood test for detecting the amount of lung cancer in a patient's body. Our method could potentially be used to monitor how patients are responding to treatment, test if patients have cancer left in their body after treatment, determine what mutations a patient's tumor has without needing a biopsy, and eventually may allow us to diagnose lung cancers earlier than we can today.

2. How did you arrive at this information or approach?

We set out to develop a new blood test for lung cancer based on the detection of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). There currently are no blood biomarkers for lung cancer and so this is a major area of need. ctDNA refers to pieces of DNA derived from tumors that are found in the blood. We developed a new way of applying next-generation sequencing technologies to measure this ctDNA, which we call CAPP-Seq (Cancer Personalized Profiling by deep Sequencing). CAPP-Seq can be applied to any patient with non-small cell lung cancer "off the shelf" without need for patient-specific optimization. This work is a close collaboration with my colleague Dr. Ash Alizadeh in medical oncology here at Stanford.

3. What is the next step to bringing your research closer to helping lung cancer patients?

We are performing clinical studies to prove the utility of CAPP-Seq in lung cancer patients. We are also working to establish CAPP-Seq in a CLIA-certified laboratory so that it could be performed on patients in the clinic.


Newman AM, Bratman SV, To J, Wynne JF, Eclov NC, Modlin LA, Liu CL, Neal JW, Wakelee HA, Merritt RE, Shrager JB, Loo BW Jr, Alizadeh AA, Diehn M. 2014. An ultrasensitive method for quantitating circulating tumor DNA with broad patient coverage. Nature Medicine 20(5):548-554 .

Press Releases:
Blood test could provide rapid, accurate method of detecting solid cancers, study finds

Simple blood test to spot early lung cancer getting closer


Public and Technical Abstracts: A Genomic Strategy for Residual Disease Monitoring in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

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