Tags: Cancer | biopsy | blood | liquid | cancer | diagnosis | detection

Blood Tests Replace Biopsies for Cancer Detection

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 04:17 PM

Biopsies are often a necessary evil for people with cancer or suspected cancer, even though they are uncomfortable and sometimes risky. But a number of companies are working to develop "liquid biopsies" that track cancer through blood tests, The New York Times reports.

Telltale traces of a tumor are often present in the blood — as intact cancer cells or fragments of tumor DNA — in minuscule amounts, and numerous companies marketing sophisticated tests that can detect and analyze them.
 
While the tests still need refinement, proponents say that because liquid biopsies could be a new wave in medicine, in that they are not invasive, can be repeated periodically, and used to potentially track cancer  evolves and allowing treatments to be adjusted accordingly.
 
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, for instance, showed that a liquid biopsy could detect the worsening of breast cancer five months before it could be seen by CT scans. That could allow an ineffective therapy to be abandoned earlier.
 
Some experts also think that such blood tests might one day be used to screen healthy people, providing early detection of a wide variety of cancers.
 
Some newer tests, including one Janssen Diagnostics is trying to develop, will be able to not just count cells but also analyze them. Cynvenio Biosystems says its test can sequence 50 genes in the circulating tumor cells, according to The Times.
 
Others developing or offering tests for circulating tumor cells include Alere, ApoCell, Clearbridge Biomedics, Creatv MicroTech, Epic Sciences, Fluxion Biosciences, Rarecells, ScreenCell and SRI International. One company, Biocept, went public in February.
Some companies are also developing tests that look for DNA fragments that enter the bloodstream when cancer cells die.
 
This week, for instance, Stanford University scientists reported they have developed a new, highly sensitive blood test that can detect cancer tumors by tracking the DNA in tumors.  
 
In a new study of the test, published in Nature Medicine, the approach correctly identified half of patients with early stages of lung cancer and all patients in later, more life-threatening stages.
 

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A number of companies are working to develop 'liquid biopsies' that track cancer through blood tests designed to identify tumor particles or DNA.
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2014-17-09
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 04:17 PM
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