Oncology research, among other things, works to find non-invasive techniques that provide the necessary information to be able to fully personalize treatment based on the genomic characteristics of the tumor and its evolution during the course of the disease. .
Currently, it is already available for professionals Liquid biopsy, which is based on the analysis of a sample of blood, urine or other body fluids to detect a circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), which is the DNA fragments of tumor cells circulating in these fluids.,
Thanks to the results provided by this test “before treatment and sequentially during the course of the disease, it is possible to know the genetic or molecular changes that occur in the tumor and to better understand its development,” explains Dr. Rodrigo Toledo, head of the Are. VHIO’s Biomarkers and Clonal Dynamics group and coordinator of Ciberonc’s Liquid Biopsy Working Group.
So that, Liquid biopsies allow “to see if a tumor has mutations that make it sensitive to specific drugs or if it acquires mutations that are resistant to treatment, if it becomes more aggressive…”This information is important when deciding which treatment to follow, points out Toledo.
Limitations in Pancreatic Cancer
However, there are some limitations of this test and among them it is found that There are some tumors that release amounts of circulating tumor DNA into the bloodstream that are so small that they cannot be detected by current liquid biopsy techniques., Doctor. “Patients with these tumors are currently less likely to benefit from the information obtained from these techniques,” says Ana Belen Moreno, a researcher in Toledo’s lab.
And among these tumors is the tumor of the pancreas, which is the seventh leading cause of cancer death worldwide and its incidence is increasing. To date, there is no effective treatment for this type of cancer, which is why about 70% of patients die within a year of diagnosis.
so in this context There is a need for a more sensitive liquid biopsy technique with the ability to detect amounts of ctDNA in the blood that are not detectable with conventional liquid biopsy techniques and, thus, to analyze the characteristics of pancreatic cancer. is capable. Molecular and genomic features of tumors during the course of disease,
A medical oncologist and group leader of the Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Tumors Group and Group in Vall d’Hebron, Dr. There is an urgent need to characterize the vulnerabilities and evolutionary dependencies that may represent therapeutic targets in this disease, says Teresa Macrulla. Of translational research on non-colorectal gastrointestinal cancer in VHIO.
And that’s exactly what researchers at the Val de Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) aimed for when, in collaboration with researchers from the Cancer Research UK Lung Cancer Center of Excellence in London and Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, they developed ACT-Discover technology, which is a liquid biopsy analysis computer tool that integrates plasma analysis, also incorporates a patient’s germ cell DNA and tumor DNA obtained from a patient’s tumor biopsy or via a model obtained from a patient’s tumor .
A recent study with a group of 24 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, published in the journal Genome Medicine, showed that This new comprehensive analysis of liquid biopsies makes it possible to detect up to 30% more patients with this type of tumor than with conventional liquid biopsy techniques. In short, it is a device that gives rise to a new way of analyzing and interpreting liquid biopsy data that provides the procedure with up to 30% greater sensitivity.
Thus, as Dr. This new tool, explains Toledo, “makes it possible to detect and analyze tumor DNA in pancreatic cancer and other types of tumors that release little DNA into the bloodstream.” In fact, already within the framework of the study, It has become possible to analyze the evolution of pancreatic cancer using ACT-Discover to verify that “there is an intratumoral heterogeneity that may have important scientific and clinical implications, encouraging continued research in this line.” Opens the door.”, concludes the doctor.