New test could tell doctors whether patients will respond to chemotherapy

April 24, 2018, Purdue University
Kody experienced prolonged survival following chemotherapy, with help from Mike Childress, an associate professor of comparative oncology at Purdue. This positive outcome was predicted by a novel biodynamic imaging test. Carolyn McGuire, Kody’s owner, is shown here with the two. Credit: Purdue University photo/Kevin Doerr

Less than half the patients diagnosed with cancer respond favorably to chemotherapy, but a new method for testing how patients will respond to various drugs could pave the way for more personalized treatment.

Using Doppler light scattering, like a weather radar, researchers can determine how a patient will respond to chemotherapy even before they begin .

"Doppler weather radar sends electromagnetic waves into clouds, and while you don't see individual , you pick up the overall motion of the raindrops. What you create with this is a 3-D map of cloud motion," said David Nolte, the Edward M. Purcell Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Purdue University. "We're looking at the motion inside living tissue rather than rain droplets, and we're using infrared light instead of radar. It's like watching the weather inside living tissue as the tissue is affected by cancer drugs."

Tiny chunks of tissue taken from a biopsy are placed in a multiwall plate, where various drugs are applied. Light from an LED shines into the middle of the tissue, and researchers look at the scattered light coming off.

In collaboration with John Turek, professor of basical medical sciences, and Mike Childress, associate professor of veterinary medicine, Nolte has built a library of data to associate various light patterns with the corresponding response of patients to treatment.

The findings, which were published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express, report an 84 percent success rate predicting patient response to therapy in the group's first complete pre-clinical trial.

The study was performed on 19 dogs previously diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma, which is molecularly and clinically similar to lymphoma in humans. The treatment of cancer in dogs is almost identical to treatment for humans, Nolte said. They have biopsies, go through chemotherapy and come back for follow-ups.

The method for testing patient response to therapy, biodynamic digital holography, is currently in clinical trials in human ovarian, breast and esophageal cancer. These trials are proceeding with similar levels of accuracy, Nolte said.

"This could revolutionize the way chemotherapy is selected for patients. Hundreds of thousands of per year are given standard treatments, while only 40 percent of them actually respond," he said. "Currently, there's no good way to personalize treatment because there's no evidence-based medicine that doctors can turn to. If our method works in human cancers, it means we can help doctors choose better therapies."

Attempts to create strategies for predicting patient response to chemotherapy have been made in the past. These older methods broke up tumors into individual cells and re-grew them as 2-dimensional cell cultures. This destroyed the cellular environment in which a tumor exists, which contributes significantly to its response to treatment. By preserving the environment in living 3-D biopsies, Nolte's team is able to assess how cells respond to drugs in the relevant environment.

Explore further: Innovation could improve personalized cancer-care outcomes

More information: Honggu Choi et al. Biodynamic digital holography of chemoresistance in a pre-clinical trial of canine B-cell lymphoma, Biomedical Optics Express (2018). DOI: 10.1364/BOE.9.002214

Related Stories

Innovation could improve personalized cancer-care outcomes

August 16, 2013
An innovation created by Purdue University researchers could improve therapy selection for personalized cancer care by helping specialists better identify the most effective drug treatment combinations for patients.

Study revises molecular classification for most common type of lymphoma

April 11, 2018
In a new study, researchers identified genetic subtypes of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that could help explain why some patients with the disease respond to treatment and others don't. The study, led by researchers ...

Can our genes help predict how women respond to ovarian cancer treatment?

February 15, 2018
Research has identified gene variants that play a significant role in how women with ovarian cancer process chemotherapy.

NIR light may identify breast cancer patients who will benefit most from chemotherapy

February 12, 2018
A new optical imaging system developed at Columbia University uses red and near-infrared light to identify breast cancer patients who will respond to chemotherapy. The imaging system may be able to predict response to chemotherapy ...

Fighting cancer with cancer: 3-D cultured cells could drive precision therapy

November 8, 2017
Honeycomb-like arrays of tiny, lab-grown cancers could one day help doctors zero in on individualized treatments for ovarian cancer, an unpredictable disease that kills more than 14,000 women each year in the United States ...

Recommended for you

From the ashes of a failed pain drug, a new therapeutic path emerges

November 16, 2018
In 2013, renowned Boston Children's Hospital pain researcher Clifford Woolf, MB, BCh, Ph.D., and chemist Kai Johnsson, Ph.D., his fellow co-founder at Quartet Medicine, believed they held the key to non-narcotic pain relief. ...

Repurposing FDA-approved drugs can help fight back breast cancer

November 16, 2018
Screening Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved compounds for their ability to stop cancer growth in the lab led to the finding that the drug flunarizine can slow down the growth of triple-negative breast cancer in ...

Traditional chemotherapy superior to new alternative for oropharyngeal cancers

November 16, 2018
A drug increasingly used in combination with radiotherapy to treat a type of cancer that forms in the tonsils or the base of the tongue is inferior to a previously favored option, according to a large, clinical trial led ...

New 'SLICE' tool can massively expand immune system's cancer-fighting repertoire

November 15, 2018
Immunotherapy can cure some cancers that until fairly recently were considered fatal. In addition to developing drugs that boost the immune system's cancer-fighting abilities, scientists are becoming expert at manipulating ...

Anti-malaria drugs have shown promise in treating cancer, and now researchers know why

November 15, 2018
Anti-malaria drugs known as chloroquines have been repurposed to treat cancer for decades, but until now no one knew exactly what the chloroquines were targeting when they attack a tumor. Now, researchers from the Abramson ...

Standard chemotherapy treatment for HPV-positive throat cancer remains the most effective, study finds

November 15, 2018
A new study funded by Cancer Research UK and led by the University of Birmingham has found that the standard chemotherapy used to treat a specific type of throat cancer remains the most effective.

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.