Analysis of circulating tumor cells in the blood to replace lung biopsy
Scientists have developed a method for the analysis of circulating tumor cells in blood of patients with small cell lung cancer. This method allows physicians to monitor the development of cancer and help in developing new treatments.
"We have developed a highly sensitive test that can detect mutations present in the circulating tumor cells (CSC), and we hope that knowing these characteristics, we can find the diagnostic and prognostic markers," – said Heidi S. Erickson, assistant professor of oncology of the department of head and neck at the University of Texas.
Although researchers have found that the presence of CSC in the blood of patients with lung cancer is associated with a reduced period of survival, doctors were unable to analyze the evidence of these cells because of their low level.
The scientists used a technique with high throughput of matrix-assisted laser desorption and mass spectrometry for the analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms. This is a highly sensitive analysis using a mass spectrometer to determine the exact genetic mutations in the DNA of several malignant cells.
Identification of these mutations will allow doctors to monitor the genetic changes and cancer control, as well as the effectiveness of any treatment administered. Also, researchers will be able to determine how cancer develops and may identify new targets of therapy.
The blood test that can replace biopsy make the diagnosis easier and faster.