Liquid biopsies ‘could boost drug-resistance research’

6 June 2014

Analysing cells from a lung cancer patient’s blood sample could help scientists to predict how they will respond to treatment, suggests a new study from the University of Manchester.

The team behind the study believe their findings could help speed up research into new therapies and could help explain why some tumours become resistant to drugs.

Scientists examined the blood samples from six patients with a form of the disease called small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), which can often become impenetrable to medicines.

Progress has been slow, as researchers have been unable to track the disease over time, meaning their understanding of how resistance develops has been limited.

To overcome these challenges, scientists analysed ‘liquid’ biopsies, which involves studying cancer cells that have broken off from the tumor and circulate in the blood.

Professor Caroline Dive, lead author of the study, said: "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.

“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.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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