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Blood tests can provide fuller picture of mutations in cancer than traditional biopsies do
Date:4/6/2013

WASHINGTON-- A new blood test revealed more of the gene mutations that sustain certain digestive-tract tumors than did a DNA analysis of a traditional tumor biopsy, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators will report at a special symposium of the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Washington, April 6-10.

The findings (Abstract LB-295) will be released at a press conference on Saturday, April 6, 3:00 p.m. ET, and later at an oral presentation on Tuesday, April 9, 3:35 3:50 p.m., ET, in Salon A-B, East Hall, in the Washington Convention Center.

The findings come from a study in which researchers used advanced amplification technology to search for abnormal DNA circulating in blood samples from patients in a clinical trial of a new therapy for gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). GIST is a mutation-driven cancer of the digestive system that arises in approximately 5,000 people in the United States each year.

The technique is particularly valuable, the investigators said, because it can comprehensively detect many different cancer-related mutations from multiple tumors within a single patient, whereas conventional biopsies are able to provide information only on small bits of tumors which are sampled.

At a time when therapies are increasingly targeted at specific cancer-causing mutations and where resistance to such therapies is known to be caused by other mutations, it is important for doctors to know the full slate of mutations in all the cancer cells within a patient. Because different GIST cells within a single patient can have different sets of mutations, biopsies of one or two tumors often uncover only a portion of the mutational landscape.

"To develop the right drug for the right patient, and to use those drugs most effectively, we need to understand the tumor burden in patients as fully as possible," said George Demetri, MD, senior vice president for experimental therapeutics at Dana-Farber, who worked wi
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Contact: Teresa Herbert
teresa_herbert@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-4090
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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