Fluid Biopsy Paints Big Picture of Metastasis

Metastasis screening with fluid biopsy

February 7, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Metastasis turns cancer into a multi-front war. New research into identifying how cancer travels in the blood is the first step to preventing it.

A recent study explained how scientists developed a test to isolate cancer cells, termed 'circulating tumor cells' (CTCs) from the blood of patients with metastatic cancer. Further development of this test, referred to as a fluid biopsy, could lead to early diagnosis of metastasis when it is most treatable, as well as help research into preventing metastasis.

"Ask your oncologist about fluid biopsy technology."

In a joint research effort by the Scripps Physics Oncology Center, researchers used a combination of dyes and cancer antibodies to produce high resolution digital images to directly identify cancer cells present in the blood.

Jorge Nieva, M.D., an oncologist at Billings Clinic, said: "This technology will allow scientists to move away from mouse and cell culture systems and speed the delivery of cures for cancer in people. This is the technology we have been waiting for to solve the problem of resistance to chemotherapy drugs."

This new test represents a huge improvement over the current test, finding tumor cells in 14 out of 15 patients with metastatic cancer. The CellSearch test, which is currently used, found CTCs in 5 out of the 15 patients.

Professor Peter Kuhn from the Scripps Research Institute believes that this research holds great promise for cancer monitoring, noting that "In the future, our fluid biopsy can effectively become the companion to the patient for life."

Results were published in IOP Publishing's journal Physical Biology. This research from the Scripps Physics Oncology Center included contributions from the Billings Clinic, UCSD Moores Cancer Center, USC and UCSF.

No financial relationships by researchers were disclosed.

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Review Date: 
February 6, 2012
Last Updated:
February 7, 2012