Laboratory Corporation of America and Duke University Medical Center are teaming up to commercialize a blood-based test for the early detection of lung cancer.

LabCorp (NYSE: LH) gained exclusive rights to the test. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“There is an enormous unmet medical need related to the diagnosis of lung cancer in the earliest stages when it is most treatable,” said Edward Patz, MD, a professor in radiology at Duke. “Our goal is to develop a cutting-edge technology that when combined with other modalities such as CT imaging can better differentiate true cancers from benign nodules.”

In 2006, 164,000 people died due to lung cancer and 174,000 new cases of the disease were reported, according to the American Cancer Society.

The Duke test could help identify “high-risk individuals” for lung cancer, LabCorp and Duke said.

Duke and LabCorp will collaborate on clinical studies of the test. Results of a preliminary study were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in December.

"New diagnostic tools are required for lung cancer and this technology has the potential to stratify patients that may need more aggressive follow-up treatment and monitoring,” said Myla Lai-Goldman, MD, the chief scientific officer and medical director at LabCorp.