This unique collaboration seeks to build upon MD Anderson’s extensive research into predictive biomarkers for lung cancer and Exact Sciences’ successful development and commercialization of Cologuard, the only FDA-approved, non-invasive stool-based DNA colon cancer screening test.

The two groups plan to develop a groundbreaking new blood test that targets biomarkers associated with lung cancer.

The collaboration specifically aims at developing a blood-based lung cancer screening test to determine the need for low-dose computed tomography (LDCT).

This test would offer the opportunity to screen nearly 11 million Americans considered high-risk smokers and former smokers. The partnership is also aimed at developing a diagnostic test to determine the malignant status of nodules found through LDCT screening. This test would be valuable to nearly four million Americans diagnosed with lung nodules each year.

"Our common vision is to help win the war on cancer through early detection. Taking on lung cancer offers an opportunity to build on the success of Cologuard," said Exact Sciences’ Chairman and CEO Kevin Conroy.

The American Cancer Society estimates that lung cancer will be diagnosed in 221,200 Americans and cause 158,040 deaths in the United States this year.

The initiative is part of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, a goal-oriented, multidisciplinary effort harnessing available knowledge and new disruptive technologies to dramatically reduce cancer mortality through prevention, early detection and curative treatments.

The program’s innovative approach focuses initially on eight cancers: lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, melanoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia. Early detection was chosen as a flagship project of the Lung Cancer Moon Shot, funded initially by the Lyda Hill Foundation.