Researchers have developed a new blood test that can transform how advanced prostate cancer is treated. It can also pave way for precision-personalized treatment for the disease that kills about 30,000 per year.
Three-In-One Blood Test
As part of a clinical trial of olaparib, which belongs to a class of drugs known as PARP inhibitor, researchers collected blood samples from 49 patients with advanced prostate cancer.
PARP inhibitors kill cancer cells with defective genes that repair damaged DNA such as BRCA 1 and 2. Although some patients respond to the drug for years, some develop resistant cancer or fail to respond at an early stage of the disease.
The blood test detected cancer DNA in the blood samples, which allowed the researchers to identify the prostate cancer patients who are more likely to get the most of PARP inhibitor treatment.
Researchers also used the blood test to track the DNA in the blood when treatment has started, which makes it possible to quickly identify the patients not responding to the treatment and have them switch to a different therapy.
Study researcher Johann de Bono, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, and colleagues also used the same test to find signs of evolving cancer that serve as the first signs of drug resistance.
Bono said the three-in-one test may be used in the future to help doctors choose treatment for prostate cancer patients, check if the treatment is working, and track the cancer in the longer term.
"It could be used to make clinical decisions about whether a PARP inhibitor is working within as little as four to eight weeks of starting therapy," de Bono said.
In the future, the test can make olaparib a standard treatment for patients with advance prostate cancer by making it possible to target the patients who are most likely to benefit from the treatment. It can also help pick up early warning signs that the treatment may not be working and in monitoring for resistance.
Paving The Way For Precision Medicine For Other Types Of Cancer
De Bono added that the test can have a major impact not just on the treatment of prostate cancer, but it can also be adapted to pave way for precision medicine for patients diagnosed with other types of cancer.
Aine McCarthy, from Cancer Research UK, said the blood test can potentially improve the survival of patients by ensuring that they get the right treatment at the right time and that these patients are not given treatment that no longer works for them.
Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men. About 240,000 Americans get the illness and about 30,000 die from the disease annually. Researchers are on the hunt for better treatments.
Last year, a patient with advanced prostate cancer showed no traces of the disease after receiving a treatment that involves flooding and starving the body with testosterone. Researchers have also identified a protein that can impact the development of prostate cancer.