Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_95271

Liquid biopsy could track cancer progress in real time

9 November 2015
Appeared in BioNews 827

Scientists say it may be possible to track the progress of cancer – and cancer treatment – in real time from fragments of tumour DNA that are shed into the bloodstream.

Researchers compared simultaneous blood and tumour samples from a woman with advanced metastatic breast cancer over a three-year period. They found the same pattern of genetic changes in both types of sample as she responded to treatment.

'This definitively shows that we can use blood-based DNA tests to track the progress of cancer in real time,' said study author Professor Carlos Caldas of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. 'The findings could change the way we monitor patients, and may be especially important for people with cancers that are difficult to reach, as taking a biopsy can sometimes be quite an invasive procedure.'

The researchers were able to detect tiny fragments of DNA from dying tumour cells as they were shed into the bloodstream of the 42-year-old woman. They collected eight surgical and nine plasma samples during the course of the study, which was published in Nature Communications.

The tumour fragments displayed the same genetic changes as the tumours themselves as the woman first received tamoxifen treatment, followed by the cancer drugs trastuzumab and then lapatinib. The researchers say they were able to distinguish between her secondary tumours to see how each was responding to treatment – some tumours regressed with the initial treatment while others progressed.

It is hoped that so-called 'liquid biopsies' could one day replace surgical biopsies for many cancers.

'We were able to use the blood tests to map out the disease as it progressed. We now need to see if this works in more patients and other cancer types, but this is an exciting first step,' said Professor Caldas.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
DNA in blood can track cancer development and response in real time
Cancer Research UK |  4 November 2015
Multifocal clonal evolution characterized using circulating tumour DNA in a case of metastatic breast cancer
Nature Communications |  4 November 2015
Tracking Cancer Progression in Real Time Using Circulating DNA
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (press release) |  5 November 2015
Tumour DNA test 'can track real-time cancer progress'
Yahoo (Press Association) |  4 November 2015
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
22 January 2018 - by Dr Loredana Guglielmi 
Scientists have developed a single blood test to detect eight common cancer types and their location of origin within the body...
21 August 2017 - by Dr Loredana Guglielmi 
US researchers have developed a new blood test to detect cancer-related DNA alterations before patients experience symptoms...
12 June 2017 - by Hannah Somers 
A highly-sensitive DNA blood test could help detect cancer years before tumours are detected...
2 May 2017 - by Dr Loredana Guglielmi 
Blood tests for tumour DNA could predict relapse of the most common type of lung cancer up to one year before clinical signs show up on patient's scans...
13 March 2017 - by Dr Loredana Guglielmi 
Researchers have developed a new blood test that can not only detect cancer at an early stage, but can also indicate where the tumour is located in the body...
19 December 2016 - by Isobel Steer 
A study has cast doubts on the reliability of 'liquid biopsies' – blood tests that detect tumour mutations and are increasingly used to guide treatment...
12 September 2016 - by Meetal Solanki 
A blood test costing only £35 could help in the early diagnosis of oesophageal cancer and could be available in five years' time...
9 May 2016 - by Hannah Somers 
What researchers claim as the largest-ever whole-genome sequencing study in breast cancer has revealed five previously unidentified genes which drive the development of the disease...
21 March 2016 - by Hannah Somers 
Scientists say they have been able to detect multiple diseases, including pancreatic cancer, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, by analysing fragments of DNA in the bloodstream...
14 March 2016 - by Dr Lucy Freem 
Scientists have developed a blood test that captures tumour DNA from stray cancer cells circulating in the blood and allows them to monitor genetic changes in skin cancer...
15 February 2016 - by Helen Robertson 
A blood test to diagnose common types of cancer is in development after researchers found that five forms of the disease share a telltale chemical signature...
16 November 2015 - by Paul Waldron 
Over 100 million genetic changes have been found in a single tumour, according to a new study...
5 October 2015 - by Dr Nicola Davis 
A genetic test that can identify women with early-stage breast cancer who can be spared unnecessary treatment with chemotherapy has been shown to be effective in a clinical study...
28 September 2015 - by Neil Stoker 
Researchers have identified genetic differences in breast cancers that relapse and those that do not, suggesting that the finding could be used to help doctors identify patients most at risk of their cancer returning...
14 September 2015 - by Isobel Steer 
A US startup called Pathway Genomics has launched the first commercial 'liquid biopsy' to identify cancerous mutations via a blood test...
1 September 2015 - by Hannah Somers 
Scientists have developed a blood test that can predict several months in advance which breast cancer patients will relapse.
17 August 2015 - by Dr Nicoletta Charolidi 
Researchers have found that tests for multiple breast and ovarian cancer risk genes can be used to inform treatment decisions for women with personal or family history for such cancers...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in 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.