JUL 21, 2016 2:28 PM PDT

Liquid Biopsy Predicts Ovarian Cancer Relapse

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Ovarian cancers have one of the highest mortality rates, ranking fifth in cancer deaths among women. Of the 22,000 new estimated cases of ovarian cancer this year, only 10-15 percent of patients will be successfully treated. Unfortunately, in the large percent of remaining patients, the cancer doesn’t respond to treatment, or will inevitably return with a vengeance.

Now researchers at the Mayo Clinic say a new non-invasive test could predict whether the cancer is likely to return years before it compromises the survival of the patients. This diagnostic test could transform how doctors monitor and preemptively treat ovarian cancer to increase patient outcome.

Image credit: Pixabay.comThe diagnostic test for ovarian cancer relapse relies on measuring the amount of tumor DNA in the blood – a process known as a liquid biopsy. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), also known as cell-free tumor DNA, is genetic material from the tumor that’s freely floating in the bloodstream of cancer patients. ctDNA represents a non-invasive cancer biomarker that can indicate the presence of disease.

In this case, the research team asked whether ctDNA can predict the recurrence of a disease. They sampled blood from 10 patients with ovarian cancer before and after surgery. They also collected DNA from the actual tumor that was removed during surgery. Using mate-pair sequencing, the team showed that patients whose post-surgery blood have DNA matching that of the tumor were more likely to have cancer relapse. By contrast, patients whose post-surgery blood DNA didn’t align with the tumor DNA were more likely to be in remission.


"With liquid biopsies, we don't have to wait for tumor growth to get a DNA sample," said George Vasmatzis, researcher at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, and senior author of the study. "This important discovery makes it possible for us detect recurrence of the disease earlier than other diagnostic methods. We can repeat liquid biopsies to monitor the progression of the cancer. That gives hope of a better treatment plan over time."

Advantages of this test could be multifold. First, sequencing the tumor identifies specific mutations that could define which treatment option would be best for patients. Second, that the test can predict cancer recurrence will allow doctors to monitor and treat the cancer preemptively, leading to more positive survival outcomes. And considering that the median survival for recurrent ovarian cancer is only 1-2 years, every effort counts.

Additional source: Mayo Clinic press release
 

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
APR 24, 2021
Technology
'Information Theory' Detects Culprit Cancer Genes
APR 24, 2021
'Information Theory' Detects Culprit Cancer Genes
A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins used “information theory” to uncover key cancer genes. One such culpri ...
MAY 27, 2021
Cancer
Which ovarian cancer patients will be resistant to platinum chemotherapy?
MAY 27, 2021
Which ovarian cancer patients will be resistant to platinum chemotherapy?
Research published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine details a novel mechanism that can be used to predict which ep ...
JUN 10, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Does Lithium Prevent Colon Cancer?
JUN 10, 2021
Does Lithium Prevent Colon Cancer?
Researchers found that a drug used in the treatment of mental illness can promote the fitness of healthy gut stem cells, ...
JUN 16, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
A Potential Way to Prevent Metastatic Cancer
JUN 16, 2021
A Potential Way to Prevent Metastatic Cancer
Metastatic cancer is the deadliest, and it can happen years after cancer has been treated to the point of remission. Met ...
JUL 08, 2021
Cancer
Activating p53 May Boost Efficacy of Cancer Immunotherapy
JUL 08, 2021
Activating p53 May Boost Efficacy of Cancer Immunotherapy
Pharmacological activation of the p53 protein in cancer cells leads to an anti-tumor immune response in lab tests. These ...
JUL 16, 2021
Cancer
Exercise Slows Growth of Bowel Cancer Cells
JUL 16, 2021
Exercise Slows Growth of Bowel Cancer Cells
Exercise releases molecules into the bloodstream that reduce the growth of bowel cancer cells, say researchers from the ...
Loading Comments...