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New cancer blood test proves more sensitive than current diagnostic methods

Test could be up to ten times more sensitive than standard methods

Cancer Research UK

Researchers at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute UK have discovered that a new method of analysing cancer patients’ blood for evidence of the disease could be up to ten times more sensitive than current methods.

The new, sensitive blood test method uses personalised genetic testing of a patient’s tumour to analyse blood samples and identify different mutations within the circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA), which is released by cancer cells into the blood stream.

The researchers and collaborators studied samples from 105 cancer patients, testing this blood test method on small sets of patients with five different cancer types, with both early and late stage disease.

The team also used new methods to analyse the data and remove background noise to enhance the signal, which allowed the team to reach an enhanced level of sensitivity and identify one mutant DNA molecule among million pieces of DNA.

According to the researchers, this technique could result in the development of a test which more accurately determine wether or not a patient is likely to relapse following treatment. The findings also pave the way for the development of ‘pinprick’ home blood tests, which could be used to monitor patients’ cancer status.

“While this may be several years away from clinical use, our research shows what is possible when we push such approaches to an extreme. It demonstrates that the levels of sensitivity we’ve come to accept in recent years in relation to testing for ctDNA can be dramatically improved,” said Nitzan Rosenfeld, senior group leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

“At present this is still experimental, but technology is advancing rapidly, and in the near future tests with such sensitivity could make a real difference to patients,” he added.

The research team intends to use this method In future studies led and funded by Cancer Research UK to measure ctDNA levels in individuals who are at a high risk of developing cancer to help refine future tests for early cancer detection.

“Liquid biopsies have the potential to revolutionise all aspects of cancer care, from early detection to personalised treatment and monitoring,” said Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK.

“As a field that relies heavily on technology, this kind of proof-of-concept research is incredibly important for us to invest in as a charity, as it’s what makes potential future leaps in the use of liquid biopsies possible, and ultimately save more lives.”

Article by

18th June 2020

From: Research, Healthcare



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