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New prostate cancer test helps target treatment

By Tim Sandle     Jun 19, 2017 in Science
London - A new prostate cancer blood test can help to target treatment by pinpointing more precisely where cancerous cells are. This fist with the paradigm of precision medicine.
Researchers from The Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust have worked to together to develop a type of blood test that can identify which men with advanced prostate cancer would benefit from a new drug treatment. The blood test detects cancer DNA in the blood and the information should aid medics in assessing whether a new type of precision drug is working.
Precision medicine or personalized medicine concerns the customization of healthcare. The idea is that medical decisions, practices, and drug products become tailored to the individual patient. In relation to the new research, medical laboratory testing could select the appropriate therapy for an individual person based on a given person’s individual genetic make-up and particular physical characteristics.
This offers some hope with those with prostate cancer. This type of cancer describes the development of cancer in the prostate (a gland in the male reproductive system). The disease normally develops slowly, with symptoms emerging sometime after the cancer has begun to develop.
READ MORE: Potential prostate cancer treatment announced
With the new blood test, as BBC Science summarizes, the researchers took blood samples from 49 men with advanced prostate cancer. This formed part of a phase II clinical trial of a new drug called olaparib (one of a new class of drugs called “PARP-inhibitors”). PARP inhibitors such as olaparib block an enzyme used by cancer cells with defective BRCA 1 and 2 genes to repair their DNA.
The drug is a precision medicine and it will help with some people with prostate cancer, but since it is a targeted treatment it will not work for everyone. Hence the need for a test to determine which individual patients would benefit and which would not.
The lead researcher, Professor Johann de Bono, told The Guardian: “Our study identifies, for the first time, genetic changes that allow prostate cancer cells to become resistant to the precision medicine olaparib. From these findings, we were able to develop a powerful, three-in-one test that could in future be used to help doctors select treatment, check whether it is working and monitor the cancer in the longer term.”
More about Prostate cancer, Prostate, precision medicine, Personalized medicine, Cancer
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