A team of investigators from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCLA School of Dentistry received a five-year, $4.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop and improve liquid biopsy technologies for the early detection of lung cancer — the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the U.S.

UCLA is one of five U.S. institutions in the NCI Liquid Biopsy Consortium, which is seeking a better way to detect early signs of lung cancer in people with suspicious lung nodules — small abnormal growths in the lungs. The grant will support the UCLA team’s work in developing a technology called EFIRM-liquid biopsy, a noninvasive method to determine the molecular composition of a tumor for markers that indicate the presence and nature of cancer.

“We are extremely excited of this work as the next horizon of liquid biopsy for early cancer detection: noninvasive, highly discriminatory, minimal volume and best performance,” said Dr. David Wong, professor of oral biology and director of the UCLA Center for Oral/Head and Neck Research at the UCLA School of Dentistry.

Other team members include Dr. Denise Aberle, professor of radiology and bioengineering at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, William Hsu, associate professor of radiological sciences, Kostyantyn Krysan, professor of medicine, Fang Wei, associate professor of oral and systemic health sciences, Dr. Liying Zhang, professor of pathology and director of cancer molecular diagnostics, and Dr. Charles Strom, CEO of Liquid Diagnostics.

Read the full story about the grant at the Jonsson Cancer Center website.