New CTC technology looks promising to track evolution of prostate cancer

Researchers in California say they believe circulating tumor cells, captured and analyzed by new technology, could function as a 'liquid biopsy." If further studies confirm the effectiveness of the tech, dubbed the NanoVelcro Chip, prostate cancer could be more easily tracked over time to provide personalized treatments.

"The molecular characterizations of CTCs will provide real-time information allowing us to choose the right treatment for the right patient at the right time," said Dr. Edwin M. Posadas, medical director of the Urologic Oncology Program at Cedars-Sinai's Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute and senior author of the article in the March online issue of Advanced Materials. Scientists from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA led the effort. They collaborated with scientists from multiple institutions in China and other countries.

While routine measurement of CTCs has been around since 2004, the researchers say that enhancements to the NanoVelcro Chip allow them to go beyond the shortcomings of earlier efforts.

Doctors pump the patient's blood through the chip, and cancer cell microvilli stick to the nanofiber structures on the device surface. Next, doctors use laser capture microdissection to pick and slice out CTCs, free of white blood cell contamination. Then the end CTC samples are subjected to whole exome sequencing so doctors can spot cell genetic mutations and clearly decipher the patient's cancer makeup. The researchers say the new technology is less invasive than taking tissue biopsy samples and can track the cells if they mutate. Mapping these changes in CTCs in the lab should permit doctors to quickly adjust their treatments as needed.

Prostate cancer is not the only area where researchers at looking at the use of CTCs as a biomarker. Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are looking at creating a CTC blood test as a marker to predict the outcome of early stage breast cancer.

- here's the release

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