“There’s a lot of potential here, and that’s why there’s a lot of excitement.”
(Raritan, NJ)—Several news agencies this week have reported on an AP story about a “revolutionary” blood test that can spot a single cancer cell among millions of healthy ones. Since four large cancer centers will be using it in studies, and Johnson & Johnson has decided to bring it to the market, it signals great hope for early detection of the disease.
Notes excerpts from a PR Newswire release about the test, coined the CellSearch system: Measuring the change in circulating tumor cell (CTC) count can accurately predict the prognosis and survival in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), according to a newly published report in the July 10, 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The CellSearch(R) System is the first 510(k) diagnostic test used to automate the capture and detection of CTCs, tumor cells that have detached from solid tumors and entered the patient’s blood. (Photo by: Griszka Niewiadomski)
“Measuring CTCs in metastatic breast cancer patients provides oncologists with an additional tool to help us better monitor patient outcomes,” said one of the lead authors, Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli, associate professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. “The CellSearch(R) CTC test provides an early indication about patients’ disease progression and overall survival.”
CTCs and FDG-PET/CT are two of the most promising new tools for therapeutic monitoring in patients with MBC. The number of CTCs identified in patients with MBC is related to patient prognosis; a high number of CTCs at any time during treatment is associated with poor prognosis.
The CellSearch(R) test works by using antibodies that are joined to microscopic iron particles, called ferrofluid. These antibody/ferrofluid combinations attach very specifically to CTCs. Powerful magnets then draw the CTCs out of the blood sample and they are then stained with additional bio-molecules and chemicals so that they can be positively identified as CTCs.