Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Scripps Research Institute Developing New Blood Test To Detect Certain Cancer Cells

This new test will be able to detect certain cancer cells before they spread. The blood test by Scripps Research would find cells not seen with biopsy.

"It's very exciting," said Dr. Kelly Bethel, a pathologist with the Scripps Clinical Group.  Right now the tissue of lung and breast are obtained through biopsy samples.  This procedure can be painful for patients.

Angel O'Brien knows that pain all too well. She is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and received both a biopsy of the breast and her lymph nodes for testing.

"It was a very quick process," O'Brien said. "When they do it, it's just a little injection, very quick. But the lymph node was quite tender and that one hurt."The blood test would find cells not normally seen with a biopsy. Researchers explained that sometimes cancer cells escape from the main tumor, flow through the blood and spread."They're just too elusive. You can't catch them. You can't capture them," said Bethel.Doctors were not able to detect those runaway cells in tissue cancers until now.

"Every time you come to the doctor or every time you get a new therapy … we can check and see what's going on," Bethel said.
"A primary biopsy is a very invasive procedure, whereas a blood sample is something that you can get very easily and it's not just easy, you can take it again and again and again," said Peter Kuhn, a Scripps Research professor of cell biology.O'Brien is hopeful about a blood test to watch her health."I think it's wonderful ... I think every step they make it puts another piece of the puzzle," O'Brien said.Kuhn said the blood test could reach final approval in the next couple of years.


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