New diagnostic technology may lead to individualized treatments for prostate cancer

April 2, 2013, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

(Medical Xpress)—A research team jointly led by scientists from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California, Los Angeles, have enhanced a device they developed to identify and "grab" circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, that break away from cancers and enter the blood, often leading to the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.

If more studies confirm the technology's effectiveness, the NanoVelcro Chip device could enable doctors to access and identify in the , which would provide the diagnostic information needed to create individually tailored treatments for patients with prostate cancer.

The researchers believe this technology may function as a "liquid ," revolutionizing conventional biopsy practices and significantly advancing the field of personalized medicine. Today's biopsies require the removal of through a needle inserted into a solid tumor, a procedure that is invasive and sometimes painful. Biopsies are extremely difficult in metastatic prostate cancer because the disease often spreads to bone, where the availability of the tissue is low.

The biggest challenges in the are that every person's tumor differs greatly and often mutates over time, especially in response to treatment. Researchers hope that by analyzing these CTCs, doctors will be able to understand the tumor evolution in each individual. By monitoring the in CTCs and their invasiveness in a , doctors may be able to quickly adjust their treatment plans in response.

"We are optimistic that the use of our NanoVelcro CTC technology will revolutionize . We know that cancers evolve over time and that every patient's cancer is a unique problem—the 'one-size-fits-all' approach is not going to allow us to cure prostate cancer or any other cancer," said Edwin M. Posadas, MD, medical director of the Urologic Oncology Program at Cedars-Sinai's Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute and senior author of the article in the March online issue of Advanced Materials.

"This evolution means that we need to be able to monitor these changes over time and to ensure a patient's treatment is individualized and optimized. The molecular characterizations of CTCs will provide real-time information allowing us to choose the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. This improvement will be a great step toward developing personalized medicine," he added.

The existence of CTCs and their role in cancer metastasis was first suspected more than 140 years ago, and the first test for the routine measurement of CTCs became available in 2004, but earlier methods have produced low capture efficiencies and limited capability of captured cells to be utilized for later molecular analysis.

"Our technology is the combination of three state-of-the-art technologies: the NanoVelcro CTC chip, laser capture microdissection and whole exome sequencing," said Yi-Tsung Lu, MD, a postdoctoral scientist at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, and one of the article's first authors. "This advancement will, in principle, allow us to track the genomic evolution of prostate cancer after we initiate a therapy and will allow us to better understand the mechanism of drug resistance that is common in patients. We hope the comprehensive understanding of cancer biology at the individual level will ultimately lead to better therapy choice for patients suffering from advanced cancer."

With the new system, a patient's blood is pumped through the NanoVelcro Chip—the microvilli protruding from the cancer cells will stick to the nanofiber structures on the device's surface, much like Velcro. This phenomenon facilitates the capture of rare CTCs in the blood stream. Next, laser capture microdissection technology allows the scientists to selectively cut out and pick up the CTCs from the NanoVelcro Chip, virtually eliminating any trace of any contamination from white blood cells, which can complicate analysis. Finally, the isolated and purified CTCs are subjected to single cell "next-generation" sequencing, which reveals mutations in the genetic material of the cells and may help doctors personalize therapies to a patient's unique cancer.

"To date, CTC capture technologies have been able to do little more than count the number of CTCs, which is informative but not very useful from a treatment planning perspective. It is a scientific breakthrough to have the ability to isolate pure CTCs and maintain their integrity for sophisticated genomic and behavioral analyses," said Hsian-Rong Tseng, PhD, associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA and the inventor of the NanoVelcro Chip concept and device. His enthusiasm is echoed by Leland W. K. Chung, PhD, director of the Urologic Oncology Research Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.

Explore further: Researchers further refine 'NanoVelcro' device to grab single cancer cells from blood

Related Stories

Researchers further refine 'NanoVelcro' device to grab single cancer cells from blood

February 25, 2013
(Phys.org)—Researchers at UCLA report that they have refined a method they previously developed for capturing and analyzing cancer cells that break away from patients' tumors and circulate in the blood. With the improvements ...

New device will advance cancer treatment

June 28, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- The future of prostate cancer therapy may lie in a tiny, "sticky" silicon chip dubbed GEDI (Geometrically Enhanced Differential Immunocapture, pronounced like the "Star Wars" forces of good) that can identify ...

Researchers identify potential treatment target for metastatic pancreatic cancer using CTC chip technology

July 30, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers with the Stand Up To Cancer CTC Chip Dream Team have identified a potential treatment target in metastatic pancreatic cancer through a detailed analysis of genes expressed in circulating tumor ...

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.