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Detection, analysis of 'cell dust' may allow diagnosis, monitoring of brain cancer
Date:11/11/2012

vasive and impractical. To address this need, the CSB team sought to develop a simple blood test that could be used to easily monitor disease progression.

"The issue with microvesicles, however, is that they are very small, so there are not many technologies out there that can detect and molecularly profile them," explains Lee. "That is where our new technology comes in." By using nanotechnology to magnetically label microvesicles, and by adapting and improving equipment they developed last year to detect cancer cells with a miniature, hand-held NMR, the MGH researchers were able to reliably detect the tumor microvesicles in blood samples from mice bearing human GBM tumors and eventually in samples from human GBM patients.

Compared with other gold-standard techniques, this new technology demonstrated excellent detection accuracy. However, unlike other methods which can be time-consuming and require much greater sample volumes as well as expertise to perform NMR detection is quick and simple, potentially providing almost instant results from a small blood sample right in a doctor's office, the authors note. The MGH CSB team is currently extending this platform to other types of cancer and to other diseases such as bacterial infection. A number of clinical studies are currently ongoing, and others are in the planning stages, with the goal of eventually commercializing the technology.

"These microvesicles were found to be remarkably reliable biomarkers," confirms Weissleder. "They are very stable and abundant and appear to be extremely sensitive to treatment effects. In both animals and human patients, we were able to monitor how the number of cancer-related microvesicles in the bloodstream changed with treatment," explains Weissleder. "Even before an appreciable change in tumor size could be seen with imaging, we saw fewer microvesicles. It's like they are a harbinger of treatment response." Weissleder is a professor of Radiology and Lee
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

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