Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators have shown that an MGH-developed, microchip-based device that detects and analyzes tumor cells in the bloodstream can be used to determine the genetic signature of lung tumors, allowing identification of those appropriate for targeted treatment and monitoring genetic changes that occur during therapy.
CTCs or circulating tumor cells are living solid-tumor cells found at extremely low levels in the bloodstream.
“The study of the CTC-chip device opens up a whole new field of studying tumors in real time,” says Daniel Haber, MD, director of the MGH Cancer Center and the study’s senior author.
“When the device is ready for larger clinical trials, it should give us new options for measuring treatment response, defining prognostic and predictive measures, and studying the biology of blood-borne metastasis, which is the primary method by which cancer spreads and becomes lethal.”
The current study was designed to find whether the device could go beyond detecting CTCs to helping analyze the genetic mutations that can make a tumor sensitive to treatment with targeted therapy drugs.
The researchers tested blood samples from patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
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