Percepta Bronchial Genomic Classifier, a new diagnostic test from Veracyte Inc, can assess a person’s risk for lung cancer.

A new diagnostic test from Veracyte Inc could help many people avoid risky and costly invasive lung biopsies at a time when millions of American smokers are eligible for lung cancer screening, according to data from studies presented on Sunday.

The company’s Percepta Bronchial Genomic Classifier takes cell samples from the windpipe of smokers during a bronchoscopy procedure and analyzes 23 genes for their reaction to exposure to cigarette toxins.

“These cells are like a canary in a coal mine. They’re telling us whether that nodule deep down in the lung is likely to be a cancer,” said Dr Avrum Spira of Boston University School of Medicine, co-inventor of the test and lead investigator of the studies.

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