Giving the gift of time | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
 In Lifehouse News, Media Stories, Research Stories, Science News

We’re proud to be part of the team that has developed a simple blood test that can show which men with the most aggressive type of prostate cancer should respond to conventional therapy, and those who need other options.

Working with researchers from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Monash University School of Clinical Science, we joined forces with California-based biotechnology company, Predicine, to apply a first-in-class liquid biopsy for men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).

From as little as 10ml of blood, the test can simultaneously profile the circulating DNA and RNA which is shed by cancer cells, offering important insights into the make-up of the cancer and treatments most likely work.

Nearly 20,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Australia, making up a quarter of all male cancer diagnoses, and mCRPC is the most aggressive form accounting for over 3000 deaths from this disease every year.

Metastatic prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate, and it is “castration-resistant” if progression continues despite the patient starting therapy that deprives the cancer of androgen hormones, such as testosterone.

“This research allows us to choose the best possible treatment option for patients with advanced prostate cancer,” says Professor Lisa Horvath, Director of Medical Oncology and Research at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, “

“A simple blood test that may allow us to predict a patient’s response to conventional treatment will not only ensure men with advanced prostate cancer receive the most effective treatment while avoiding unnecessary treatment, it may also give them the precious gift of time.”

In this study, published in the journal European Urology, researchers applied Predicine’s cell-free DNA and cell-free RNA next generation sequencing liquid biopsy technology to detect whether changes to the Androgen Receptor (AR) gene have occurred within mCRPCs.

They used this to test the blood of Australian men with mCRPC prior to treatment, accurately detecting some form of AR alteration in over half of patients. The team found that abnormalities in the AR gene detected in the blood of men with advanced prostate cancer were associated with poor responses to available drug treatments and reduced survival.

The study results were further validated in a second cohort of prostate cancer patients in the United States.

The new liquid biopsy test from Predicine is also more informative than previous tests as it analyses two types of genetic material – DNA and RNA – to give a more in-depth and accurate insight into AR abnormalities within the cancer.

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