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Barcode test highlights aggressive prostate

News & Views

Barcode test highlights aggressive prostate

Oct 26 2012

Scientists have designed a blood test that reads genetic changes like a barcode – and can pick out aggressive prostate cancers by their particular pattern of gene activity. A team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust found reading the pattern of genes switched on and off in blood cells could accurately detect which advanced prostate cancers had the worst survival. The researchers also believe the blood test could eventually be used alongside the existing PSA test at diagnosis to select patients who need immediate treatment.

Professor Johann de Bono, leader of the prostate cancer targeted therapy team at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), and honorary consultant at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Prostate cancer is a very diverse disease – some people live with it for years without symptoms but for others it can be aggressive and life-threatening – so it’s vital we develop reliable tests to tell the different types apart.

“We’ve shown it is possible to learn more about prostate cancers by the signs they leave in the blood, allowing us to develop a test that is potentially more accurate than those available now and easier for patients than taking a biopsy. Our test reads the pattern of genetic activity like a barcode, picking up signs that a patient is likely to have a more aggressive cancer. Doctors should then be able to adjust the treatment they give accordingly.”

The study received funding from AstraZeneca, Prostate Cancer UK (formerly the Prostate Cancer Charity) and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, while the Drug Development Unit also receives funding from Cancer Research UK and the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre network.
Report in The Lancet Oncology (October 9)
 


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