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Research suggests a blood test to locate gene defects associated with cancer may not be far off
Date:1/8/2014

HOUSTON, TX - Some surprising research findings from scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center suggest it's possible a simple blood test could be developed to determine whether gene mutations associated with pancreatic cancer exist without the need of locating and testing tumor tissue. This appears possible following the discovery that tiny particles the size of viruses called 'exosomes,' which are shed by cancer cells into the blood, contain the entire genetic blueprint of cancer cells. By decoding this genomic data and looking for deletions and mutations associated with cancer, the research team believes this discovery could be translated into a test that helps physicians detect cancer and treat patients. The findings are based on research led by Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D., chairman and professor in MD Anderson's Department of Cancer Biology. The research results appear in the current online edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

"At the present time, there is no single blood test that can screen for all cancer related DNA defects," said Kalluri. "In many cases, current protocols require a tumor sample to determine whether gene mutations and deletions exist and therefore determine whether the tumor itself is cancerous or benign. To procure tumor tissue, one needs to know that a tumor exists and if so, is it accessible for sample collection or removal? Finally, there are always risks and significant costs associated with surgical procedures to acquire tumor tissue."

Historically, researchers were aware these miniscule particles existed and that they carried nucleic acids and proteins. It was also believed that exosomes carried small portions of the person's DNA. However, upon further investigation, the MD Anderson research team was surprised to learn that the person's entire double-stranded genomic DNA spanning all chromosomes can be found in exosomes, including those mutated chromosomes that cause variou
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Contact: Jim Newman
jnewman@mdanderson.org
713-792-0662
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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