CTC Chip Tracks Lung Cancer Cells
New technique makes it possible to identify genetic fingerprint of lung cancer cells. Circulating tumor cells (CTC) will help doctors to identify cancer cell mutations, choose targeted therapies for each patient individually, track cancer cell changes during treatment and change it if necessary.
A joint team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School examined 27 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. Twenty three patients in the study were found to have EGFR gene mutations. They were taken blood tests to find and examine circulating cancer cells.
Researchers used Circulating tumor cells chip technology, which is examining circulating tumor cells (CTC) in lung, pancreatic, prostate, breast and colon cancers. CTCs are the cells circulating through blood and spreading cancer to other parts of body. This cancer spread process is called metastasis, which is the main reason of why cancers are deadly. CTC chip is a business card sized chip with 80000 coded columns. Columns have antibodies on them which are identifying cancer cells in blood easily.
CTC chip technology successfully found 99% of all circulating cancer cells from blood samples and 92% of EGFR gene mutations.
This new technology is a huge step forward to individual targeted cancer treatment. Health professionals now clearly understand the importance of targeted therapies, because some patients may successfully respond to a cancer treatment, but some others may not. Using CTC chip technology they will be able to define how exactly a patient will respond to a certain treatment and if the treatment will be successful or not.
Besides, even if treatment of cancer is successful, cancer cells may adapt to the treatment and make it useless to go on with the same therapy. This technology will enable doctors to track cell gene mutations during therapy period and change it if necessary.
CTC chip technology is still in development and lots of work needs to be done to have the chip automated so that big amount of blood samples can be checked, but the innovation is already promising, because it looks at cancer source, not only at symptoms.
CTC chip is yet expensive, but researchers mention that if a patient gets proper therapy which will work for him, he will save a lot on other cancer treatments which will be useless for him.
We had earlier published on CTC Chip Discovery from the Massachusetts General Hospita writing that "A team of investigators has developed a microchip-based device that can isolate, enumerate and analyze circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from a blood sample. CTCs are viable cells from solid tumors carried in the bloodstream at a level of one in a billion cell. Because of their rarity and fragility, it has not been possible to get information from CTCs that could help clinical decision-making, but the new device - called the "CTC-chip,"- has the potential to be an invaluable tool for monitoring and guiding cancer treatment."