A new cancer testing method developed by scientists can detect one mutant DNA molecule in a million molecules of DNA. This new method is said to be up to 10 times more sensitive that the traditional method of testing for cancer cells. Another important point is that this new testing method doesn’t require invasive surgery to be conducted, making it much easier to conduct, and potentially, more inexpensive.
The new approach to cancer testing is based on a more personalized level. Genetic mutations of tumor DNA are searched for under the bloodstream that is specific to the patient. The researchers detailed their work un the journal Science Traditional Medicine.
The researchers call the method INVAR, or INtegration of VAriant Reads. The abstract from their publication reads, “[The INVAR pipeline] combines custom error-suppression methods and signal-enrichment approaches based on biological features of ctDNA. With this approach, the detection limit in each sample can be estimated independently based on the number of informative reads sequenced across multiple patient-specific loci. As tumor sequencing becomes increasingly performed, such methods for personalized cancer monitoring may enhance the sensitivity of cancer liquid biopsies.”
According to research-lead Dr. Nitzan Rosenfeld, a group leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, their work is still at an experimental level and clinical use are still several years away. However, personalized tests to detect for cancer is being tested in clinical trials.
One disadvantage of traditional testing is that they are hard to detect as they are present in very small quantities, being less invasive. This becomes even harder with people that have very small tumors or residual diseases. However, the new personalized testing method involves searching for up to thousands of mutations in a blood sample, analyzing the specific tumor for each patient and targeting towards that set of mutations.
The new personalized test detected ctDNA in earlier-stage disease patients. The researchers plan on developing their method further for early-stage detection with funding from Cancer Research UK.
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Source: Science Focus