Scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in the UK and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust have announced a new blood test to look at the ‘molecular clock’ of breast cancer.
The test may be able to track the growth of multiple tumors in the body and check how they respond to treatment.
Researchers said the test could help detect the most actively growing tumors as breast cancer spreads throughout the body and select the best treatment for patients.
The blood test was developed based on the results of the LEGACY study.
According to a rapid autopsy study, the spread of breast cancer to multiple locations follows a traceable, orderly sequence.
Also, most of the new tumors in distant organs formed by cancer cells all come from one cell in the original breast tumor.
Funded primarily by Breast Cancer Now and sponsored by ICR and The Royal Marsden, the study helped researchers quickly remove and analyze secondary tumors after the death of an affected person.
Scientists believe the test would be very sensitive and relatively inexpensive, as it does not require any prior knowledge of the genetic makeup of a patient’s cancer.
Professor Andrea Sottoriva, Director of the Institute of Cancer Research Center for Cancer Drug Discovery Cancer Evolution, said: “Our study sheds light on two of the central challenges in cancer research and treatment: the deadly ability of cancer to adapt and evolve, and tend to spread outward. the initial tumor to other parts of the body.
“The LEGACY study gave us a unique opportunity to analyze the genetic makeup of breast cancer after it has spread to multiple sites in the body, shedding new light on the course of cancer evolution.”
“We’ve also found a whole new way to understand how the tumor grows and evolves by analyzing the ‘molecular clock’ signatures of cancer DNA in the blood.”