Jeff Huber lost his wife, 47-year-old Laura Pool Huber to the cold hands of death on November 10, 2015 –she died of cancer when she and everyone else least expected she had the disease, given her vibrant life and abundant energy.
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Huber was a Google executive for over 10 years – he assisted to develop Google Maps of which StreetView was a prominent part, Gmail, Calendar, and Google Docs among others. But the death of his wife turned his attention to cancer research and treatment, and he found his feet with Illumina.
Huber’s wife died of advanced metastatic colon cancer, but he joined the board of directors of Illumina in San Diego after she was diagnosed with the condition, now he has been given the full reins of an arm of the company after his wife passed away.
Illumina established Grail in January this year to detect cancer traces via blood tests. Investors such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and Illumina funded Grail with $100 million, and Huber is now the CEO - the San Diego Union Tribune reports.
"The goal that we have is to save lives," Huber said. "We feel very confident that early detection of cancer is just about the best way possible today of saving millions of lives."
Grail will be relying on Illumina’s advanced genomic sequencing technology to detect cancers before they ever become evident through other test methods, and here blood samples will be screened to locate cell-free DNA and RNA and mutations that may be linked to cancer cells. There won’t be any invasive biopsies involved here.
Scientists are aware that not all cancers require instant treatments since monitoring the advancement of certain slow-growing tumors is the best way to deal with such cancers. Since such tumors may shed genetic materials that give it away as a tumor growth in slight amounts over many years, detection might prove very difficult and costly, and this is where genomic sequencing comes handy.
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“Along with the diagnosis, Grail plans to determine how where the cancer originated, how aggressive it is, and what treatments are likely to be most effective,” Huber said.