A recent pilot study done at Chronix Biomedical and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has revealed that breast cancer patients can be monitored for cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in their blood samples. This group of researchers has demonstrated that these samples accurately correlate with breast cancer.
This research will be presented in a poster session at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Meeting. These poster sessions will be held in Chicago between May 31 and June 4, 2013. The poster session title will be “Modulation of breast cancer cell-free DNA with Surgical resection.”
The researchers used advanced next-generation sequencing (NGS) to find tumor-associated cfDNA. Sixteen breast cancer patients had gone through surgical excision of their primary cancer. This analysis was done on pre- and post-surgery serum collected from each patient as well as original tumor biospy. cfDNA cancer biomarkers were found in pre-surgery serum and in the original tumor biopsies, but not found in white blood cell genomic DNA. Post-surgery samples of 81 percent of the patients were free of serum biomarkers. The remaining patients had reduced tumor-specific biomarkers. These early results pave the way for a larger study that will be designed to see if residual biomarkers after surgery indicates a marker of minimal disease. If so, this procedure may be used as a prognostic tool.
[adrotate banner=”9″]Furthermore, the researchers plan to look at a larger group of women who have undergone neoadjuvant therapy (NAT) that involves chemotherapy, which is generally followed by surgery. This is to ensure they have all the cancer cells removed in order to create a cancer free patient. However, there is a problem with this procedure in that many patients have a pathological response to the chemotherapy, which ends up destroying lymph nodes. Nevertheless, having a prognostic tool such as the cfDNA blood test would help doctors determine whether the patient is cancer free post-therapy.
According to Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., Chair, Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics, and Medical Director, Institute of Personalized Cancer Therapy, MD Anderson, and principal Investigator of this study, “If we are successful in further validating this innovative research, a major advance will be made toward providing a new era of personalized medicine.”
This group of researchers believes this study will greatly improve the medical outcome for breast cancer patients. They also believe they will be able to extend this approach to a number of other tumor cell lines which will improve patient management and medical outcomes for a number of cancers.