WHAT: A telebriefing will announce the development by the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center of a new “liquid biopsy” to accurately detect the presence of seven cancers using machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence. The briefing will coincide with the publication of a study in the journal Nature.

WHY:   Blood tests, or so-called “liquid biopsies” for cancer detection typically look for mutations — or changes in the DNA sequence within a cancer cell — or for methylation, a chemical reaction in which a methyl group is added to DNA. But not all cancer patients have changes that are detectable using these methods, and improved methods for early detection of cancer’s genetic markers are greatly needed. The new Johns Hopkins blood test, known as DELFI (DNA evaluation of fragments for early interception), takes a different approach by studying the way DNA is packaged inside the nucleus of a cancer cell. It does so by looking in the blood at the size and amount of DNA from different regions across the genome for clues to that packaging. In the Nature study, DELFI accurately detected cancer DNA in 57% to more than 99% of blood samples from 208 patients in the United States, Denmark and the Netherlands with various stages of bile duct, breast, colorectal, gastric, lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. 

WHEN: Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 11 a.m. EDT

CALL-IN INFORMATION: Members of the media who are in the United States can participate via telephone by dialing 800-230-1951; international callers dial 612-332-0226. The conference ID number is 468185. A moderator will manage reporter questions.

WHO: Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology and co-director of the cancer biology program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Please note: Dr. Velculescu will be available for interviews until 5 p.m. EDT.

PRESS QUESTIONS: Reporters may submit questions before the media event by sending an e-mail to [email protected]. Questions not answered during the telebriefing will receive an e-mail reply from Velculescu after the event or a telephone interview can be arranged with him. Please include your full name and the name of your media organization in the message. Use “Liquid Biopsy” in the subject line.


  • Highlights and live updates from the event will be posted on Twitter via @HopkinsMedNews.
  • For information about the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, please visit this webpage.