Pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson said Monday it was partnering with doctors to improve a test to detect cancer cells in the blood in a bid to one day make it available in doctor's offices.

The technology, known as Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) microchip, has been touted as a revolutionary approach toward diagnosing cancer since it was first developed several years ago by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital.

It works by detecting cancer cells that have detached from a tumor and are circulating at very low levels in the blood.

"This new technology has the potential to facilitate an easy-to-administer, non-invasive blood test that would allow us to count tumor cells, and to characterize the biology of the cells," said Robert McCormack, head of Technology Innovation and Strategy at Veridex, a division of Johnson and Johnson.

The partnership brings together Veridex, which is the only company to have brought a version of the test to the US market, together with clinical researchers to develop an improved version of the current technology.

"This collaboration is an opportunity to apply our past learning to the advancement of a platform that will ultimately benefit patients with cancer," said lead researcher Mehmet Toner.

The planned "next-generation system" aims to improve the sensitivity of the current test and make it available for use by oncologists "as a diagnostic tool for personalizing patient care, as well as by researchers to accelerate and improve the process of drug discovery and development," Veridex said.

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