Chinese researchers have recently revealed that the treatment effect of metastatic cancers can be predicted by tumour heterogeneity manifested in circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA), which may help patients obtain more precise treatment.
This is according to Ma Fei, the Research Team Leader, from the China National Cancer Centre.
Different patients have different types of tumours, and the same tumour varies in different periods, which is the heterogeneity of a tumour, so diverse treatment is required.
The current clinical treatment only offers one treatment for various types of tumours, so some patients do not achieve the best effects.
To see how a tumour changes, doctors need to take real-time samples for testing, which may put patients at risk.
Researchers tested ctDNA samples from 37 breast cancer patients to demonstrate that ctDNA can assess tumour heterogeneity without invasion.
The researchers found that patients with a higher degree of tumour heterogeneity have significantly shorter progression-free survival compared to those with less heterogeneous tumours.
They also proposed for the first time that the difference of the resistance genes’ clone structure, which is a type of tumor heterogeneity, can affect the treatment effect.
If the resistance gene was located in the primary clone, patients would soon become resistant to the drug, while patients with the resistance gene located in the subclone were able to maintain drug efficacy for a longer period, Ma said.
Hoping to help develop targeted treatment for different patients, the study provided new ideas for the future of precision medicine in cancer treatment, Ma added.
The research was published in the International Journal of Cancer.
Andrew Futreal and other researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston also contributed to the research. (Xinhua/NAN)