Now, for the first time, a group of scientists have shown that they can also detect CTCs before and after chemotherapy treatment and hence may be able to identify those patients likely to have a recurrence of their cancer after such treatment in future.
Dr. Julia Jückstock, from the University of Munich, Munich, Germany, told a press conference at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) today (Monday September 24) that the results could help improve the design of trials of chemotherapy in breast cancer, as well as reducing costs to health services.
The team, led by Dr. Brigitte Rack, also from Munich, set out to look at the role of CTCs in blood at the first diagnosis of breast cancer and during adjuvant chemotherapy and endocrine treatment. They analysed blood samples from 1,767 node-positive and high-risk node-negative breast cancer patients before the start of their treatment, and compared the results to those obtained from 852 of the same patients after completion of chemotherapy.
“We found that 10% of patients whose blood was sampled before the start of treatment had more than one CTC, and 5% of these patients had more than two CTCs in approximately 20 ml of blood,” said Dr. Jückstock. The presence of CTCs did not correlate with other prognostic factors such as tumour size, grading, hormonal or Her-2 status, but the scientists did see a significant correlation with the presence of lymph node metastases.
Of 24 healthy individuals used as controls, none showed more than one CTC, said the scientists. Among the 852 patients whose blood was analysed post-treatment, 11% were CTC positive before the start of treatment, while 7% had more than one CTC after completion of chemotherapy.
Of those patients who were initially CTC positive, 10% remained so and 90% had a negative CTC test after chemotherapy. Of those initially CTC negative, 93% remained negative, whereas 7% had a positive CTC result.
The advantage of screening for CTCs is that, unlike other predictive factors, including genetic signatures, it can be carried out after the completion of primary therapy, and, if needed, on other occasions during the duration of disease. Other predictive methods can only be used on diagnosis, and only once, say the scientists.
Previous work on the detection of CTCs in bone marrow had also been shown to have predictive value, said Dr. Jückstock. “It is easier to work with bone marrow, because the volume of CTCs is much higher than in blood in the case of a positive status. However, because bone marrow is not easily accessible it is difficult to use this technique on a large scale. It is very much simpler, and more patient-friendly, to take blood samples for analysis.
“We think that the persistence of CTCs after chemotherapy treatment is likely to be predictive of the likelihood of recurrence of cancer in these patients,” said Dr. Jückstock, “and we will be working to analyse the prognostic value of our findings. If this proves to be the case, it will open the door to a simple way of monitoring the likely outcome of chemotherapy, as well as enabling us to target treatments more precisely. For example, for those patients who have an increased risk of recurrence, we could prolong or alter the chemotherapy regime to give them a better chance of recovery. For those who are likely to respond well to treatment, we could reduce the length of treatment and use less aggressive therapies, thus sparing unpleasant side effects.
“We expect to have these results in the next five years,” she said, “and if they are as expected, we are optimistic that our research can bring about a real improvement in the way chemotherapy is used in breast cancer patients.”
Mary Rice | alfa
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?
24.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy