Blood tests instead of biopsy for cancer?

Dr. Weeks’ Comment: this is the future of oncology. It can’t come too soon!



New ‘Biopsy in a Blood Test’ to Detect Cancer

ScienceDaily (Feb. 2, 2012) ”” Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute, Scripps Health, and collaborating cancer physicians have successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of an advanced blood test for detecting and analyzing circulating tumor cells (CTCs) — breakaway cells from patients’ solid tumors — from cancer patients. The findings, reported in five new papers, show that the highly sensitive blood analysis provides information that may soon be comparable to that from some types of surgical biopsies.

“It’s a next-generation technology,” said Scripps Research Associate Professor Peter Kuhn, PhD, senior investigator of the new studies and primary inventor of the high-definition blood test. “It significantly boosts our ability to monitor, predict, and understand cancer progression, including metastasis, which is the major cause of death for cancer patients.”

The studies were published February 3, 2012, in the journal Physical Biology.

The new test, called HD-CTC, labels cells in a patient’s blood sample in a way that distinguishes possible CTCs from ordinary red and white blood cells. It then uses a digital microscope and an image-processing algorithm to isolate the suspect cells with sizes and shapes (“morphologies”) unlike those of healthy cells. Just as in a surgical biopsy, a pathologist can examine the images of the suspected CTCs to eliminate false positives and note their morphologies.

Kuhn emphasizes that this basic setup can be easily modified with different cell-labeling and image-processing techniques.


This result points to the possibility of using the HD-CTC blood test not only to evaluate already-diagnosed cancer, but also to help detect cancer in people who are unaware they have it. “If HD-CTC works on the day after cancer diagnosis, as we’ve shown, then one can easily imagine that it would work the day before diagnosis, too,” Kuhn said.

Kuhn and his colleagues now intend to study the use of HD-CTC as a potential screening test and to develop it further for use in clinical monitoring and cancer research. Kuhn has founded a San Diego-based biotechnology company, Epic Sciences, Inc., to develop HD-CTC commercially for companion diagnostic products in personalized cancer care.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byScripps Research Institute.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal References:

  1. Jorge Nieva, MarcoWendel, Madelyn Luttgen, Dena Marrinucci, Lyudmila Bazhenova, Anand Kolatkar, Roger Santala, BrockWhittenberger, James Burke, Melissa Torrey, Kelly Bethel, and Peter Kuhn. High– imaging of circulating tumor cells and associated cellular events in non-small cell lung cancer patients: a longitudinal analysisPhysical Biology, Feb 3, 2012
  2. Dena Marrinucci1, Kelly Bethel, Anand Kolatkar, Madelyn Luttgen, Michael Malchiodi,, Franziska Baehring, Katharina Voigt, Daniel Lazar, Jorge Nieva, Lyudmilda Bazhenova, Andrew H Ko, W Michael Korn, Ethan Schram, Michael Coward, Xing Yang, Thomas Metzner, Rachelle Lamy, Meghana Honnatti, Craig Yoshioka, Joshua Kunken, Yelena Petrova, Devin Sok, David Nelson, and Peter Kuhn. Fluid biopsy in patients with metastatic prostate, pancreatic and breast cancersPhysical Biology, Feb 3, 2012
  3. Daniel C Lazar, Edward H Cho, Madelyn S Luttgen, Thomas J Metzner, Maria Loressa Uson, Melissa Torrey, Mitchell E Gross, and Peter Kuhn. Cytometric comparisons between circulating tumor cells from prostate cancer patients and the prostate-tumor-derived LNCaP cell linePhysical Biology, Feb 3, 2012
  4. Edward H Cho, MarcoWendel, Madelyn Luttgen1, Craig Yoshioka, Dena Marrinucci1, Daniel Lazar, Ethan Schram, Jorge Nieva, Lyudmila Bazhenova, Alison Morgan, Andrew H Ko, W Michael Korn, Anand Kolatkar, Kelly Bethel, and Peter Kuhn. Characterization of circulating tumor cell aggregates identified in patients with epithelial tumors.Physical Biology, Feb 3, 2012
  5. Marco Wendel, Lyudmila Bazhenova, Rogier Boshuizen, Anand Kolatkar, Meghana Honnatti, Edward H. Cho, Dena Marrinucci, Ajay Sandhu, Anthony Perricone, Patricia Thistlethwaite, Kelly Bethel, Jorge Nieva, Michel van den Heuvel, and Peter Kuhn. Fluid biopsy for Circulating Tumor Cell identification in Patients with early and late stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer; a glimpse into lung cancer biologyPhysical Biology, Feb 3, 2012

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