A simple blood test could change the treatment of advanced breast cancer


Called a liquid biopsy, Kingston researchers believe the blood test they developed could save breast cancer patients from unnecessary tests and treatments, allowing doctors to find the most effective treatment faster. It states that

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The researchers plan to enroll patients with metastatic breast cancer (that has spread from its original site) in Ottawa and Kingston as part of an ongoing clinical trial measuring the efficacy of the blood test.

If approved, the test could extend the lives of people with metastatic breast cancer and improve their quality of life, according to an award from Mitax, a Canadian non-profit research organization aimed at building partnerships. Winning Kingston-based researcher Ilsa Wigginton said: She called for cooperation among academics, industry and government.

Oncologists now use CT scans to determine whether certain treatments for metastatic breast cancer are working. Scans, which deliver far more radiation than x-rays, are used sparingly, so patients and oncologists wait about three months after starting treatment to see if it works. . It can take up to 18-24 months to go through the available treatments and find the best treatment for an individual patient.

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Minimally invasive blood tests, on the other hand, can be used just weeks after the start of treatment, allowing oncologists to switch gears more quickly to find the most effective treatment for their patients, and save months of grueling treatments. You won’t have to keep taking it, Wigginton says. don’t work

“Unfortunately, patients with metastatic breast cancer have a poor prognosis, so we cannot waste time determining the most effective course of treatment,” she says.

“We are providing[oncologists]with tools that enable them to make informed decisions that ultimately lead to better patient outcomes and improved quality of life.”

Chris Muller, a senior scientist and professor at the Queen’s University Cancer Institute and principal investigator at the Queen’s Institute, which developed the test, says oncologists wanted something like this test. . He is the president and founder of mDetect, a company set up to market this test. Mr. Wigginton is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Head of Business Development for the company.

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Mueller says the test has great potential.

“[Oncologists]are really completely unaware of what they are doing. CT scan results take a long time,” he says. “I don’t want to wait three months for a drug that does nothing and has harmful side effects.”

The researchers hope to enroll 150 patients from Kingston and Ottawa hospitals in the trial, which could take three years. The oncologist will assist in enrolling suitable patients for the study. Before doing so, researchers need to properly demonstrate how well the test works compared to CT scans, Müller said.

This test measures DNA in the blood and shows whether metastatic breast cancer is growing or shrinking.

The development of so-called liquid biopsies is expanding in areas such as lung cancer monitoring, Mueller said.

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If the clinical trial results are positive, the next challenge will be finding a way to get approval for hospital use and reimburse the companies that sell the test. No clear system currently exists in Canada for doing so, Muller said.

The potential benefits are already clear, he said.

“I think one of the important things is to actually reduce the side effects women are experiencing. If we can do that, they’ll have a better quality of life.”

Wigginton is one of five recipients of the Mitacs Entrepreneur Award, which recognizes their efforts to transform research into innovative businesses that help Canadians.

This support helped Wigginton, a scientist, learn the skills necessary to become an entrepreneur, she says.

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