Lung Cancer Has Early Detection With Liquid Biopsy Blood Test

A breakthrough study in lung cancer treatment was announced by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. A simple blood test can detect mutations in genes of patients with lung cancer.

This non-invasive solution can help those with NSCLC, non-small cell lung cancer. The result of the tests will identify which drugs can target the mutations in the non-small cell lung tumors with accuracy and with sensitivity to time.

Rapid plasma genotyping, the technical name behind the liquid biopsy, is the process when a test tube with the patient’s blood is analyzed. The free-floating DNA, remnants from cancer cells, are then analyzed for anything abnormal, in particular any mutations.

Geoffrey Oxnard, MD, thoracic oncologist and lung cancer researcher at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explained the research conducted.

“In some patients with the EGFR resistance mutation, ddPCR detected mutations missed by standard tissue biopsy. A resistant tumor is inherently made up of multiple subsets of cells, some of which carry different patterns of genetic mutations. A single biopsy is only analyzing a single part of the tumor, and may miss a mutation present elsewhere in the body. A liquid biopsy, in contrast, may better reflect the distribution of mutations in the tumor as a whole.”

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, with around 200,000 people diagnosed with NSCLC every year. The lung cancer early detection with liquid biopsy blood test study reports that about 30 percent of those patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer have mutations that can be targeted with available therapies.

Geoffrey Oxnard, MD, thoracic oncologist and lung cancer researcher at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was the lead researcher of this lung cancer study.

“We see plasma genotyping as having enormous potential as a clinical test, or assay – a rapid, noninvasive way of screening a cancer for common genetic fingerprints, while avoiding the challenges of traditional invasive biopsies.

“Our study was the first to demonstrate prospectively that a liquid biopsy technique can be a practical tool for making treatment decisions in cancer patients. The trial was such a success that we are transitioning the assay into a clinical test for lung cancer patients at DF/BWCC.”

The study’s lead author, Adrian Sacher, MD, of Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explained how this new lung cancer early detection with liquid biopsy blood test research will change the course of treatment.

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“One of the most dramatic benefits of this successful research is that in the midst of treatment, a patient can take a liquid biopsy so that the physician can determine if the current treatment is helping the patient, or to change the course of treatment. Early detection is crucial to the success of treating lung cancer. The cancerous tumors are constantly mutating and transforming, so identifying the latest mutation, such as EGFR is crucial.

“Those whose blood tests showed a disappearance of the mutations within two weeks were more likely to stay on the treatment than patients who didn’t see such a reduction.”

How revolutionary is this lung cancer early detection with liquid biopsy blood test? Pathologist Lynette Sholl, MD, explained why they have already decided to give the to begin offering the rapid plasma genotyping to each of their lung cancer patients.

“The study data are compelling. We validated the authors’ findings by cross-comparing results from liquid and tissue biopsies in 34 NSCLC patients. To work as a real-world clinical test, liquid biopsy needs to provide reliable, accurate data and be logistically practical. That’s what we’ve seen with the ddPCR-based blood test.

“The test has great utility both for patients newly diagnosed with NSCLC and for those with a recurrence of the disease. It’s fast, it’s quantitative (it indicates the amount of mutant DNA in a sample), and it can be readily employed at a cancer treatment center.”

This lung cancer early detection with liquid biopsy blood test study has been optimistic news for lung cancer patients with NSCLC.