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Blood test for prostate cancer
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Blood test for prostate cancer

05.04.2013 - Austrian and German researchers have presented a blood test to track prostate cancer development.

The new method offers huge benefits to patients who have to be monitored for prostate cancer recurrence by providing a less invasive approach than the currently used biopsies. Instead, study chiefs Jochen Geigl and Michael Speicher from Medical University of Graz and the University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, took blood samples, isolated the patient’s DNA and analysed it using an Illumina benchtop sequencer. 

Genomic signatures displayed abnormal copy numbers of specific genetic markers, which indicated resistance against hormone deprivation therapy, the most common form of treatment in men with metastatic prostate cancer. Although being a small scale study including only 25 patients the presence of prostate cancer was flagged by copy number mistakes in sequences such as NCOA2, PHLPP1 and TMPRSS2-ERG. As expected each person's cancer signature was slightly different, however patients whose cancer did not respond to castration all had increased copy numbers of genes for the androgen receptor (AR). 

According to the researchers, "the simplicity and low cost of  such liquid biopsies make these genetic tests an attractive alternative to traditional biopsies. Better genetic information resulting from these tests may also help target treatment, especially of castration-resistant prostate cancer and aid personalised therapy in the clinic."  Two years ago, Swiss researchers had presented a blood test detecting protein biomarkers to track prostate cancer. However, Next-Generation Sequencing is much faster and cheaper.

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