Scientists have developed a blood test that could help pair cancer patients with the most suitable therapy for their disease.
The technique helps scientists to track the tumor’s progress and to monitor the treatment, to see how it is working or whether the tumor is becoming resistant to treatment.
The scientists and clinicians, from The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden in London, used the test to filter out tumor DNA from a patient's blood and analyzed it for genetic faults. Based on the results, researchers could match the faults to targeted cancer treatments which then home in on cancer cells carrying these mistakes.
Currently, tumor samples, known as biopsies, are usually only taken at the beginning of treatment, meaning that doctors may be using out-of-date information about how the genetic makeup of a patient's disease is changing in response to treatment.
This new approach could provide real-time updates, as well as helping doctors identify patients who are suitable for clinical trials of new drugs.
While more research needs to be done, the new approach could have a huge impact on how doctors make treatment decisions and also potentially make diagnosis and treatment quicker, cheaper and less invasive.