New Technology: Blood Tests Instead of Biopsies for Tumors

By: Mike Tuttle - February 6, 2012

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute, Scripps Health, and collaborating cancer physicians have successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of an advanced blood test for detecting and analyzing circulating tumor cells (CTCs)—breakaway cells from patients’ solid tumors—from cancer patients. The findings, reported in five new papers, show that the highly sensitive blood analysis provides information that may soon be comparable to that from some types of surgical biopsies.

“It’s a next-generation technology,” said Scripps Research Associate Professor Peter Kuhn, PhD, senior investigator of the new studies and primary inventor of the high-definition blood test. “It significantly boosts our ability to monitor, predict, and understand cancer progression, including metastasis, which is the major cause of death for cancer patients.”

Kuhn emphasizes that this basic setup can be easily modified with different cell-labeling and image-processing techniques.

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