Cancerous tumours release into the bloodstream DNA that contains specific signals about the tumours, research has found.
According to a statement from Cancer Research UK, there is a growing hope that analysing these DNA fingerprints could provide a quick, simple ‘liquid biopsy’ to track tumours’ progress.
Earlier this year, researchers at the charity’s Cambridge Institute published compelling evidence that circulating DNA could indeed be used to take a snapshot of the DNA errors, known as mutations, in a patient’s breast cancer.
In the science journal Nature, the research team detailed how blood samples can be used to monitor genetic changes in a patient’s disease over time. It is hoped this discovery has the potential to be a game-changer and accelerate research into what makes cancers tick within time-frames that affect clinical decision making.
The Cambridge team is working on a number of new studies to exploit the power of tumour DNA testing.