'Liquid Biopsy': Blood test gives 'real-time' picture of cancer
(Medical Xpress) -- A simple and cost-effective blood test could be used to monitor how a patient is responding to treatment and detect genetic faults in their cancer as they happen, according to a Cancer Research UK study.
The test accurately measures the levels of faulty DNA fragments that are shed into the bloodstream by cancer cells as they die. By tracking these levels, scientists at Cancer Research UKs Cambridge Research Institute were able to detect genetic faults involved in tumour growth in blood samples taken from twenty women with ovarian cancer.
The researchers were also able to build a real-time picture of how one womans breast cancer was responding to treatment over more than a year.
As treatments become more targeted towards genetic mutations, this approach could mean that a patient is given certain treatments based on the results of a quick blood test, sparing them from an invasive biopsy.
Study author Dr Nitzan Rosenfeld, based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, said: This type of blood test has the potential to revolutionise the way we diagnose and treat cancer. The great advantage is that it can be used to identify cancer mutations without surgery or a biopsy, making it safer and cheaper.
The test also overcomes one of the main limitations of tumour biopsies, where a sample may only give a limited snapshot of the mutations that are present in cancer. Its also difficult to take samples from secondary cancers throughout the body, once the disease has spread.
This video is not supported by your browser at this time.Because DNA is shed from all tumours into the bloodstream, this test gives a fuller picture of the diseases progress.
This is the first time scientists have been able to screen entire genes in a blood test to identify mutations that have arisen in the cancer, and it could transform how cancers are monitored and treated in the future.
The research, published today in Science Translational Medicine, used DNA sequencing to look for nearly 20,000 possible mutations in 6 cancer-related genes and was able to identify rare DNA molecules containing cancer-specific genetic faults.
The researchers identified mutations in blood samples from twenty ovarian cancer patients treated at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. They were also able to measure changes in the amounts of cancer DNA in the blood stream in several ovarian and breast cancer patients.
Dr James Brenton, a Cancer Research UK ovarian cancer clinician and study author, said: Our technique is much more comprehensive and practical than others that have been used to measure DNA in the blood. More than two per cent of the DNA we found in plasma of advanced cancer patients came from the tumour. This tumour specific DNA offers us an opportunity to follow the disease in real-time as it changes, helping us to respond and change the treatments we use against the disease.
In one of the ovarian samples studied, the test was able to detect a new genetic fault not found in the original biopsy. After further examination, they found that this mutation was present in a small minority of cells in one part of the tumour, but could not be identified in most areas tested.
The researchers believe that implementing the test could be done at a similar cost to others used to detect and monitor cancer and a single technician could carry out several hundred tests a week.
Dr Rosenfeld added: We need to confirm its accuracy in more patients, and in additional cancer types, but this test could be adapted to look for mutations in different cancers and updated to include new genetic faults as research uncovers them.
Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UKs chief clinician, said: These initial results hold out the promise of a new way to monitor cancer and how it can change as patients undergo treatment. In the future we will be using many more treatments aimed at molecular changes in cancer cells, and this gives us a system that could allow us to respond and modify treatments as we see new gene changes occurring."
More information: Forshew, T et al, Non-invasive identification and monitoring of cancer mutations by targeted deep sequencing of plasma DNA Science Translational Medicine (2012) DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003726
Journal reference: Science Translational Medicine
Provided by Cancer Research UK
- Cancer genes differ in different parts of a tumour Mar 08, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- New test for ovarian cancer patients Nov 09, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Gene fault could predict ovarian cancer drug success Jun 06, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Evolving ovarian cancer cells 'dodge' treatment with chemotherapy Dec 20, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Scientists reveal best imaging technique for ovarian cancer Feb 15, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
A Japanese cancer specialist said Wednesday she has started the world's first clinical trial of a powerful, non-surgical, short-term radiation therapy for breast cancer.
Cancer 9 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The gap between life expectancy in patients with a mental illness and the general population has widened since 1985 and efforts to reduce this gap should focus on improving physical health, suggest researchers in a paper ...
Cancer 13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
By studying the roles two proteins, thrombospondin-1 and prosaposin, play in discouraging cancer metastasis, a trans-Atlantic research team has identified a five-amino acid fragment of prosaposin that significantly reduces ...
Cancer 14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A novel transcriptome-based classification of colon cancer that improves the current disease stratification based on clinicopathological variables and common DNA markers is presented in a study published in PLOS Medicine this w ...
Cancer 14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A study of veterans at high risk for developing lung cancer shows that low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) can be highly effective in helping clinicians spot tiny lung nodules which, in a small number of patients, may indicate ...
Cancer 16 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Italian lawmakers on Wednesday gave their final approval to a law that allows limited use of a controversial type of stem cell therapy which has been condemned by many scientists but has given hope to families of terminally-ill ...
29 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—The mayor of Portland, Ore., has conceded defeat in an effort to add fluoride to the city's drinking water.
59 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Alabama health officials say a mysterious respiratory illness has left five people hospitalized and two dead in the southeastern part of the state.
39 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
New research at The University of Nottingham aimed at preventing harmful blood clots associated with heart disease and stroke has recently received a major funding boost from the British Heart Foundation.
15 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
New mothers throughout Australia are needed to help QUT sleep researchers investigate whether the disrupted sleep experienced by mothers when caring for their new baby raises the risk of injury while driving.
7 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Those who tend to say "yes" when faced with this classic dilemma are likely to be deficient in a specific kind of empathy, according to a report published in the scientific journal ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |