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Researchers have demonstrated that by analyzing certain properties from blood samples, it is possible to identify prostate cancer with great speed and accuracy, as well as if a patient’s disease is localized or metastasized, according to a study published in nanotoday.
To do so, researchers analyzed extracellular vesicle, which are bundles of proteins and genetic material that facilitate communication between cells. They travel through the blood from donor cells to recipient cells, including cancerous ones. The new noninvasive test can identify extracellular vesicles and decode the information they carry, identifying whether a patient has prostate cancer.
“This approach outperformed individual genes in distinguishing the disease states,” the researchers wrote in the study.
The extracellular vesicle blood test works by combining two existing technologies, click chip (a system which purifies the extracellular vesicles for testing) then a specific type of PCR test, made popular for its use in testing for coronavirus. Using the two in tandem allows physicians to distinguish extracellular vesicles associated with localized disease from those associated with metastasized disease, but also allows doctors to track disease progression through treatment.
This would allow physicians to actively chart a therapy’s effectiveness and allow treatment to pivot quickly if prostate cancer progressed.
“As the knowledge of (extracellular vesicles) cargo continues to evolve, this assay can be easily adapted using alternative genes to identify and reflect specific changes of disease biology — particularly those that may aid in optimizing selection of therapies… the results confirm the value and clinical utility of this novel approach,” study authors stated.
One of the lead researchers, Edwin Posadas, medical director of the urologic oncology program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, discussed the utility of the extracellular vesicle test in survivors of prostate cancer.Approximately 30% of patients who undergo surgery to remove the prostate as part of their treatment plan later see a rise in prostate-specific androgen levels, indicating cancer recurrence.
Using radiation therapy on this patient population is effective but is likely to damage a patient’s rectum and bladder, leading to significant quality-of-life effects. Sometimes the cancer is not even in the prostate bed, and in those cases, radiation will not delay disease progression.
As such, knowing exactly where prostate cancer cells are is of immense benefit to the patient, and current testing methods are not able to distinguish disease site. However, since extracellular vesicle testing can identify metastasized disease, using this screening method can identify if survivors are candidates for radiation.
“This would allow many patients to avoid the potential harms of radiation that isn’t targeting their disease, and instead receive systemic therapy that could slow disease progression,” Posadas said.
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