Spot on CML

The worldwide burden of cancer will fall primarily to low- and middle-income countries over the next decade, with 23.6 million cases predicted worldwide by 2030. Researchers project that between 10 and 11 million cases per year will occur in the developing world, where proper diagnosis and treatment are expensive and scarce. Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), can be successfully treated with a single drug, but only if it is diagnosed. Without a diagnosis and treatment, most people succumb to the disease within 10 years. Spot on CML provides low-cost, low-tech access to advanced laboratory diagnostics for CML – and access to free life-saving treatment – through a unique collaboration that reaches patients across the globe.

Low-Cost Access to High-Tech Diagnostics

CML Card Processing
The research team has developed a low-cost way to diagnose CML using dried blood spots on a paper card. Robert Hood / Fred Hutch

It can be difficult and prohibitively expensive to diagnose cancer in low- and middle-income countries without advanced laboratories, trained technicians or even reliable electricity. And when diagnosed, many patients are unable to afford life-saving medicines. Fred Hutch clinical researcher Dr. Jerald Radich and Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, CEO of the Max Foundation, began a partnership that tackles both of these challenges. Their mission is to bring treatment for CML to all patients around the globe.

Radich and his team developed an innovative, inexpensive and low-tech approach to diagnostic testing: doctors spot a patient’s blood onto special paper and send it through regular “snail” mail to the Radich lab in Seattle. There, technicians use advanced PCR methods to detect the BCR-ABL gene, a specific genetic mutation that underlies CML.

Once a positive diagnosis is made, the Max Foundation links patients to low- or no-cost medications that can save their lives, thanks to their unique and long-standing partnership with Novartis and other pharmaceutical companies. The Spot on CML project launched with the goal of diagnosing 365 patients in its first year. In total, 371 patients in 15 countries from Uganda to Fiji to Honduras now have access to life-saving medicines as a result of this project. We are committed to ensuring a healthy future for CML patients around the world, and we invite you to learn how our partnership is making it possible.

Spot On CML in the Philippines — drawing blood on a patient and preparing a card to send to Fred Hutch.
Spot On CML in the Philippines — drawing blood on a patient and preparing a card to send to Fred Hutch.

Max Foundation

Six Steps to Cancer Diagnosis

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The Max Foundation works with partner physicians to identify patients in need of diagnosis.

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Fred Hutch provides Spot On CML test cards to the Max Foundation, who delivers or mails them to physicians.

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The physician draws the patient’s blood and places four drops on the test card.

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The Max Foundation transfers the cards to Fred Hutch for processing in the laboratory. Each test takes two days to complete.

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Upon receiving results, the Max Foundation informs the physician and connects patients testing positive for CML to free treatment options.

An Innovative Partnership

The strength of this successful model stems from the complementary goals and expertise of each of the four partner organizations – a world-class biomedical research institute, a premier diagnostic testing company, and two major international foundations.

Our Partners

Fred Hutch

The mission of Fred Hutch is the elimination of cancer and related diseases as causes of human suffering and death. Our investigators, including three Nobel laureates, conduct research of the highest caliber to improve disease prevention and treatment. Driven by a relentless pursuit to share knowledge with the world, the Hutch contributes to Spot on CML by enabling Dr. Radich’s lab team to analyze samples, increasing access to affordable CML diagnosis worldwide.

The Max Foundation

The Max Foundation aims to help people around the world face cancer with dignity and hope by creating access to treatment in low- and middle-income countries where it does not exist. We accomplish this through partnerships with industry, non-governmental agencies, health care providers, and patient organizations. Capitalizing on our international network of physicians, we contribute to Spot on CML by identifying patients in need of testing. We also connect newly diagnosed patients with subsidized treatment options. For questions please contact:


Cepheid is a company that enables molecular diagnostic testing of any patient specimen on a centralized or disseminated basis, thereby enabling medical providers to identify and treat diseases early, increasing opportunities to improve patients’ survival and quality of life. In Spot on CML, Cepheid provides free instrumentation and reagent support for molecular sequencing.

International CML Foundation

The mission of the International CML Foundation (iCMLf) is to improve outcomes for patients with CML globally. Working with physicians treating CML and the CML scientific community, the foundation aims to foster and coordinate global clinical and research collaborations and to improve clinical practice and disease monitoring in CML around the world. iCMLf provides financial support for Spot on CML.

Follow us as we travel the world making CML diagnostics and access to free treatment available

Elizabeth Prescott

Contact Elizabeth Prescott

Development / Philanthropy