Oncology Central

How to capture circulating tumor cells: innovative non-invasive liquid biopsy method

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Researchers from Okayama University (Japan) are seeking partners to commercialize a clinically proven non-invasive fluorescence virus-guided capture system of human colorectal circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood samples for genetic testing. Such non-invasive diagnostic techniques are essential for personalized cancer therapy.

This research has been led by Toshiyoshi Fujiwara (Okayama University) and was published in Gut. Fujiwara and colleagues have previously reported on clinical tests on OBP-401 (TelomeScan®)-based GFP labeling to detect live CTCs in gastrointestinal and ovarian cancers. In this latest study, the team show that their OBP-401 based CTC-capture system enables the monitoring of genetic mutations in both epithelial and mesenchymal types of CTCs, thereby opening a potential new avenue of genetic testing and personalized medicine. The researchers state that this liquid biopsy can be carried out in real time in order to allow optimized, timely decision making regarding therapeutic intervention.

CTC detection is challenging due to the low quantities in which these cells are present in the blood stream. Recent research has demonstrated the existence of heterogeneous CTCs that possess both epithelial and mesenchymal characteristics. This discovery has increased demand for the development of CTC capture systems capable of detecting CTCs irrespective of epithelial cell markers. Targeted cancer treatment is currently carried out via primary tumor analysis; this approach encounters difficulties due to limitations in the availability of metastasis/reoccurrence-causing cells, invasive nature of the procedure and inaccessibility of certain locations.

The new OBP-401 CTC capture system developed can be used for genetic testing of CTCs with mesenchymal characteristics, including GISTs and osteosarcomas. Combining this capture system with genetic testing has allowed the detection of KRAS and BRAF mutations in blood samples from colorectal cancer patients. The next steps for this promising technology will be large-scale testing.

Sources: Shigeyasu K, Tazawa H, Y. Hashimoto Y et al. Fluorescence virus-guided capturing system of human colorectal circulating tumour cells for non-invasive companion diagnostics. Gut. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2014-306957 (20140 (Epub ahead of print); Asia Research News

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