Chip Checks Blood To See If Cancer Treatment Is Working By Fourth Week

Researchers have developed a chip that analyzes a patient’s blood for cells shed by a lung cancer tumor, enabling treating physicians to determine whether lung cancer treatment is working by as early as the fourth week.

Now, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a chip that analyzes a patient’s blood for circulating cancer cells, telling treating physicians how well their lung cancer treatment is working by the fourth week. The researchers looked at liquid biopsies, tests that look for signs of cancer in the patient’s blood, like cancer cells shed by tumors.

Lung cancer has proved a particular problem in terms of developing a means of monitoring treatment via a blood test, likely, say the researchers, because previous tests have targeted a single protein on the cells’ surface that’s not as common in this kind of cancer.

To test whether the GO chip could monitor the effectiveness of lung cancer treatment, the researchers in the current study collected CTCs from 26 patients receiving chemoradiation and immunotherapy for stage 3 NSCLC. Samples were taken before treatment started and after the patients’ first, fourth, tenth, eighteenth and thirtieth weeks of treatment.

When the number of CTCs didn’t decrease by at least 75% by the fourth week of treatment, the patient’s cancer was more likely to persist after treatment.

The PFS was seven months for these patients compared to the 21-month average in patients with a large decrease in CTCs. They also found that CTCs from patients whose cancer didn’t respond to treatment had activated genes that may have made the cancer more resistant.