Liquid biopsy to track lung cancer
A liquid biopsy using a patient’s blood sample could offer a new way to track lung cancer say researchers from Cancer Research UK’s Manchester Institute.
Their method offers a means of testing new therapies in the lab and better understanding how tumours become resistant to drugs. It could also pave the way for personalised medicine to treat the disease.
Researchers studied the potential of using circulating tumour cells (CTC) in diagnosing small cell lung cancer (SCLC), an aggressive disease with poor survival. In many cases, the tumour is inoperable and biopsies difficult to obtain, meaning scientists have very few samples with which to study the disease.
The study - published in Nature Medicine – found patients with SCLC had many more CTCs in a small sample of their blood than patients with other types of cancer. Importantly, the researchers say, the number of CTCs for each patient was related to their survival – patients with fewer CTCs in their blood lived longer.
“Access to sufficient tumour tissue is a major barrier to us fully understanding the biology of SCLC,” said Professor Caroline Dive, who led the study.
“This liquid biopsy is straightforward and not invasive so can be easily repeated and will allow us to study the genetics of each lung cancer patient’s individual tumour. It also means that we may have a feasible way of monitoring patient response to therapy, hopefully allowing us to personalise and tailor individual treatment plants to each patient.”
Dive and her team used these CTCs to grow tumour models in mice, which they termed CDXs – CTC-derived explants. When treated with the same chemotherapy drugs as SCLC patients, CDX mice responded in the same way as each donor patient.
“We can use these models to help us understand why so many SCLC patients acquire resistance to chemotherapy and to search for and test potential new targeted treatments,” said Dive.
Tumorigenicity and genetic profiling or circulating tumor cells in small-cell lung cancer