Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers develop blood test that can detect genetic changes in progressive breast cancer

08.06.2004


Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have developed a blood test that can detect amplification of a certain gene found in circulating cells associated with breast cancer.



If further clinical studies bear out its effectiveness, researchers say the blood test could be used as a standard operating procedure to monitor genetic changes for which a treatment is available.

"Cancer is a moving target, and the oncologist has to know which bullet to put in his gun," said Dr. Jonathan Uhr, professor of microbiology and internal medicine in the Cancer Immunobiology Center at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. "Obtaining repeated blood samples is a safe and routine procedure, and this test can help the oncologist determine whether a new genetic change has become dominant and calls for a specific treatment for that change."


Their work will appear in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is currently available online.

The researchers developed a blood test to optimize the detection and characterization of circulating cancer cells shed from a primary tumor. This is done by matching the cells’ genetic abnormalities with the parent tumor.

The test can detect one circulating tumor cell in 10 million white blood cells, said Dr. Uhr.

The research augments previous work by UT Southwestern researchers to determine if patients whose primary tumor did not have amplification of the gene HER-2 could acquire amplification if the tumor recurred and progressed. Using the new blood test to examine the circulating tumor cells from growing tumors, initial indications are this amplification eventually can occur, Dr. Uhr said.

Dr. Uhr says that in a patient whose primary tumor is classified as HER-2 gene non-amplified, a minute number of tumor cells actually may be HER-2 amplified. With time and selective pressures, this small population expands and becomes the predominant one.

Overexpression of the HER-2 gene occurs in about 20 percent to 25 percent of breast-cancer patients. Prognosis is poor, as the cancer cells often resist radiation therapy and almost all drugs.

However, studies have shown that the drug Herceptin (an antibody to HER-2) can treat tumors with HER-2 amplification by itself in 25 percent of patients and in 50 percent when combined with chemotherapy. The antibody binds to the molecules that are produced by the HER-2 gene and reside on the cancer cells’ surface. The drug neutralizes their effect with far fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy.

By utilizing this blood test to determine HER-2 gene amplification in circulating cancer cells, doctors may be able to provide Herceptin to certain patients who have acquired such amplification. At present, HER-2 amplification is only diagnosed in the primary tumor.

"The implications of tumor evolution over the course of treatment are significant," said Dr. Debasish Tripathy, professor of internal medicine and contributing author. "A better understanding of this process will not only allow us to use available drugs in a more individualized fashion but also may point to new therapeutic approaches." Dr. Tripathy heads the Komen/UT Southwestern Breast Cancer Research Program.

The next step is to evaluate patients whose circulating tumor cells have acquired HER-2 gene amplification to determine if these cells are reflecting the genetic status of the recurrent tumor, said Dr. Uhr. For the blood test to be considered worthwhile, research also must show that therapy with Herceptin alone or in addition to a chemotherapeutic agent can cause remissions in a significant number of patients.


Other UT Southwestern contributors to the PNAS study were Dr. Raheela Ashfaq, professor of pathology; Dr. Eugene Frenkel, professor of internal medicine; Dr. Marilyn Leitch, professor of surgical oncology; Dr. David Euhus, associate professor of surgical oncology; Dr. Barbara Haley, associate professor of internal medicine; Dr. Cynthia Osborne, assistant professor of internal medicine; Dr. Susan Hoover, assistant professor of surgical oncology; Dr. Edward Clifford, clinical assistant professor of surgery; and in the Cancer Immunobiology Center, Dr. Ellen Vitetta, director; Dr. Songdong Meng, postdoctoral researcher; Dr. Jianqiang Wang, postdoctoral researcher; Thomas Tucker, senior research scientist; and Nancy Lane, research scientist.

Researchers from UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; Texas Oncology PA; Dallas Surgical Group; Cancer Center Associates in Dallas; Vysis, Inc.; Wistar Institute; Immunicon Corp.; the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; and Germany’s University of Tubingen also contributed.

Research was supported by the Raymond D. Nasher Cancer Research Program and the Komen/UT Southwestern Breast Cancer Research Program.

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/utsw/cda/dept37326/files/37813.html

Scott Maier | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/utsw/cda/dept37326/files/37813.html

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New approach towards an improved treatment of anxiety disorders
12.12.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Researchers image atomic structure of important immune regulator
11.12.2018 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Innovative Infrared heat reduces energy consumption in coating packaging for food

12.12.2018 | Trade Fair News

New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

12.12.2018 | Information Technology

Obtaining polyester from plant oil

12.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>