Scientists have developed the world's first liquid biopsy for blood cancers that could lead to less invasive, more precise and effective treatments.
The test developed by researchers from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Australia monitors tiny fragments of DNA emitted from cancer cells into the blood stream, called circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA).
The study shows how liquid biopsies can be applied in clinical cases of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and myelodysplastic syndromes.
Unlike traditional biopsies, ctDNA tests track disease status throughout the body, can be used at any time over the course of cancer treatment and enables rapid adjustments if a patient relapses or fails to respond to a particular therapy, researchers said.
"This world-first ctDNA test for blood cancers will also help to more rapidly advance the availability of new precision medicines and targeted therapies as these are developed," said Sarah-Jane Dawson of Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
"Not only does this new test promise clinicians and patients a more timely and accurate understanding of whether a cancer treatment is working, it gives scientists the ability to quickly and effectively evaluate how clinical trial patients are responding to new life-saving therapies," she added.
The emergence of liquid biopsies as precision cancer trackers has the potential to significantly reduce costs to our health system, researchers said.
The study was published in the journals Nature Communications and Blood.