By Kirsten Houmann, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Better treatment may be on the horizon for lung cancer patients, thanks to a new device.
A microchip-based device previously used to detect circulating tumor cells (CTCs), or tumor cells in the bloodstream, can now be used to analyze genetic changes in those cells. This means the device can help determine how sensitive the cancerous tumors are to drugs called TKIs (Iressa and Tarceva). The devices newfound ability may help doctors form better courses of treatment for lung cancer patients.
Now we have a way to, in a non-invasive manner, tell what the genetic signature of the cancer is and how it changes over time, and that might help us pick better treatments for our patients, Lecia Sequist, M.D., M.P.H., an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the study, told Ivanhoe.
The CTC-chip can do more than simply detect CTCs because it doesnt kill the cells like similar devices already on the market, Dr. Sequist explained.
Researchers used the device, called the CTC-chip, to analyze blood samples from 27 non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Genetic analysis of CTCs from mutation-positive tumors detected mutations 92 percent of the time. NSCLC is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
In a previous study, researchers found the device could also capture CTCs from other types of cancer like breast, prostate and colon cancer.
Our next step is to try and see if some of these molecular changes that are pertinent to other tumors can be demonstrated in the captured circulating tumor cells from those kinds of patients as well, Dr. Sequist said.
SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with Lecia Sequist, M.D., M.P.H.; New England Journal of Medicine, published online July 2, 2008
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