In a new study in Science Translational Medicine, researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK and their colleagues describe a new test they've developed to detect cancer cells in blood samples, reports Rosie Mestel at the Los Angeles Times' Booster Shots blog. Such a "liquid biopsy" would be inexpensive and noninvasive compared to a regular tissue biopsy, but so far, it hasn't been easy to develop, Mestel says. Now, the Cambridge scientists say, their test can look for several key cancer-associated mutations at once in a patient's blood sample, and can also tell whether or not that patient is responding to treatment.
The test is also able to detect the tissue of origin of a metastasis, so that patients with tumors in more than one organ can get appropriate treatment, Mestel says. "What's more, analysis of plasma would offer a noninvasive 'whole body' look at all the cancer growing in a person's body," she adds.
Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the study here.