Page URL:

DNA tests for cancer promised

1 March 2010
Appeared in BioNews 547

A personalised blood test that could track how a tumour responds to treatment and whether cancer is recurring has been developed by researchers in the U.S. The team from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Centre presented their findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in California.

The researchers analysed normal and cancerous tissue from four colorectal and two breast cancer patients, during their study. They were looking for rearrangements of large chunks of DNA, which typically occurs in cancerous but not normal cells. Previous research has focused on single letter DNA changes. Between four and fifteen DNA rearrangements were found in each of the six samples.

Victor Velculescu, senior author and associate professor of oncology at John Hopkins said: 'Every cancer analysed had these rearrangements and every rearrangement was unique and occurred in a different location of genome....No two patients had the same exact rearrangements and the rearrangements occurred only in tumour samples, not in normal tissue '.

Using the new method, which has been named Personalised Analysis of Rearranged Ends (PARE), the researchers were able to develop biomarkers specific to each patient. When the researchers tried the blood tests on two of the colorectal cancer patients, they found the markers were sensitive enough to detect tumour DNA that had been shed into the bloodstream.

The biomarkers therefore offer a reliable measure that would be useful for monitoring how the tumour reacts to specific therapies. It could also detect recurrent cancers before they are found by conventional imaging methods. Eventually, the approach could pave the way for treatments tailored to the genetic signature of a patient's tumour.

'There is currently no test for cancer patients that provides personalised biomarkers for clinical management of disease, and we feel that this is an important step in bringing new genome sequencing technologies to personalised patient care', said Professor Velculescu.

One drawback of the test is the expense of sequencing, which costs around £3200 per patient, but the researchers say costs are falling as the technology improves. They believe the PARE test will eventually be more cost effective than standard hospital CT (Computerised (Axial) Tomography) scans, which are less sensitive to microscopic cancers.

Cancer 'can be tracked on DNA changes'
AFP |  19 February 2010
DNA test will allow doctors to create personalised treatments for cancer patients
Daily Mail |  19 February 2010
Personalised blood tests for cancer 'could soon transform the way the disease is treated'
Daily Telegraph |  19 February 2010
Personalised blood tests for cancer developed
Times of India |  19 February 2010
Personalised cancer blood test hope
BBC News |  19 February 2010
Science digest: Tracking cancer changes
FT |  19 February 2010
Scientists Spot Genetic 'Fingerprints' of Individual Cancers
Business Week |  18 February 2010
Scientists unveil way to track cancer treatment
Irish Times |  19 February 2010
23 July 2012 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
The genetic mutations underlying colon and rectal cancer are so similar that these cancers should be classified as one disease, a study suggests. Researchers analysed over 200 tumour samples and also identified genes that could serve as targets for future drug treatments...
14 November 2011 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
A new genetic test that will help to tailor drugs to cancer patients' individual tumours has been successfully trialled in the US...
16 May 2011 - by Dr Jay Stone 
US scientists have designed a genetic test which could predict how a patient with breast cancer responds to chemotherapy. Researchers say the test, which works for those with certain newly diagnosed forms of cancer, could help women avoid unnecessary chemotherapy....
6 September 2010 - by Harriet Vickers 
Tests to diagnose Alzheimer's disease and cancer at the molecular level are being developed by scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in London...
19 July 2010 - by Dr Jay Stone 
The largest study to link cancer cells' genetics with their sensitivity to treatment published its first results on the 15 July...
21 December 2009 - by Alison Cranage 
Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have sequenced the genomes of two cancers - malignant melanoma skin cancer and an aggressive form of lung cancer. Their findings were published in Nature last week and could transform cancer treatments....
30 November 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard 
The GSTP gene, which helps to protect the human body from harmful chemicals such as tobacco smoke, may also play a role in protection against the development of bowel cancer, say UK researchers....
30 November 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
The link between a certain genetic mutation and the most common form of brain tumour has been unravelled by US scientists. The mutation, in a gene called IDH1, was already known to be associated with the development of brain cancers, but it was not known how the mutation contributed to the disease....
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.