Illumina’s Phil Febbo on Early Cancer Detection and Launch of Galleri

Guest: Phil Febbo, CMO, Illumina


2:00 The war on cancer: is it medical Afghanistan? Are we winning?

4:00 The birth of Grail (as in holy grail. What a cheeky name!) began when odd results turned up after non-invasive prenatal screening that turned out to be cancer. “Imagine if this observation could be turned into a product.”

16:10 “71% of cancer deaths are from cancers where there is no screening test.”

17:50 The 411 on Galleri: Detects (as of today) 50+ types of cancer, including ovarian, pancreatic, and lung cancer Offers a “likely tissue of origin” that was (in early studies) correct >90% of the time Larger studies are in process. Galleri is commercially available in the US, while the UK is “kicking the tires to see how it performs in people.”

22:15 To date, how does Galleri stack up?

32:00 On the question of where to introduce Galleri (high-risk groups or gen pop), PF argues for going big: “It’s moving like lightspeed and that’s the kind of speed we need to really achieve the goal of decreasing the suffering and burden of cancer.”

40:10 Bonus question! Will the future of sequencing involve broader use of alternate technologies? “Sequencing by synthesis has been the most efficient solution over the past I’d say 10 years. but now there are multiple different alternatives.” Example: PF suggests that negative WGS in a child with a condition that is likely genetic will soon include a flex to long reads to pick up variation in those hard-to-sequence regions.

What if, someday, your doctor could order a single test able to screen for over 50 types of cancer? What if, someday, you had an effective screening option to offer patients identified with cancer susceptibility syndromes? What if, someday, we had a way to catch killers like lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancer early, when treatment was still an option?

What if that day were today?

If it sounds too good to be true, well – that’s the question, isn’t it? Tons of time, energy, and money has been poured into early cancer detection in the past 5 years. Now, Illumina’s re-acquired subsidiary Grail has launched Galleri, available in the U.S. for $949 (not covered, at least for now). Perhaps it is no coincidence that Illumina chose an oncologist as Chief Medical Officer.

We’re talking about early cancer detection with Dr. Phil Febbo on the Beagle.

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