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

th a worldwide team to develop and evaluate the new blood test during clinical trials that led to the Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of the drug regorafenib, the newest targeted therapy for GIST.

GISTs can arise anywhere in the digestive tract but occur most often in the stomach or small intestine. Many patients are at risk for spread of the disease, and different metastases can harbor different mutations that cause resistance to targeted therapies such as imatinib, sunitinib or regorafenib. These agents target the mutated proteins KIT and PDGFRA, and block the uncontrolled cancer-causing signals that drive cell growth.

"By understanding the mechanisms of resistance to current targeted therapies, we can use current drugs most effectively and work smarter to develop new strategies in our search for true cures," Demetri said. "The powerful technology in this blood test can help research in many fields to have better outcomes by a more complete understanding of the range of cancer mutations in every individual patient."

The research involved patients with metastatic GIST who were participating in a phase 3 clinical trial of oral regorafenib. Investigators collected DNA from tumor samples from as many patients as possible and analyzed them for mutations in the genes for KIT and PDGRA. "We expected this traditional method would enable us to detect the original mutations within these genes, but not the mutations that cropped up after treatment with imatinib and the second-line drug sunitinib," Demetri said. The researchers then analyzed blood samples drawn from these patients after the disease had become resistant to both imatinib and sunitinib.

The blood analysis was performed using a technology known as BEAMing Digital PCR Technology, developed by Inostics. This technology expands rare copies of circulating tumor DNA in the bloodstream and has high sensitivity to detect this abnormal genetic material from many tumors in each individua
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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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