Researchers from Chronix Biomedical and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced that results from a pilot study demonstrating the utility of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) blood tests as a companion diagnostic for breast cancer patients are to be reported in a poster presentation titled "Modulation of breast cancer cell-free DNA with surgical resection" (Abstract #11060) at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting (ASCO 2013) being held from May 31 through June 4, 2013 in Chicago. The blood test detects cfDNA that is released into the blood stream by damaged and dying cancer cells.
“This study is exciting and has the potential to greatly improve the outcome for breast cancer patients. We expect to be able to transition the approach to many other tumor lineages. Thus the proposed study should have a major impact on cancer patient management and outcomes”
In the study, researchers applied advanced next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques to identify tumor-associated cfDNA in 16 breast cancer patients undergoing surgical excision of their primary breast cancer. Analysis of pre- and post-surgery serum demonstrated that cfDNA cancer biomarkers were present in the pre-surgery serum and in the original tumor biopsy, and were not observed in white blood cell (WBC) genomic DNA. In 13 of 16 patients (81%) analyzed, the post-surgery cfDNA was free of detectable tumor-related DNA. In the remaining 3 patients only a partial reduction in tumor-specific DNA serum biomarkers was detected, since some markers were still detectable after surgery. This preliminary finding is the basis for a larger planned study designed to determine if residual tumor cfDNA after surgery is a marker of minimal residual disease, which can be pursued as a prognostic marker.