Scientists Develop Tests to Track Skin Cancer Treatment Success

August 13, 2020 13:05:38

Cancer has long been a dangerous disease accounting for lots of deaths worldwideDiagnosing and treating it has also become a big challenge because as the tumors grow, the old cancer cells are replaced by the newly formed ones. These cells then die off, releasing their DNA into the bloodstream of the patient. However, new blood tests have been developed to help in diagnosing it. The new blood test has been designed to aid in treating skin cancer and the tests have proven to be effective after a few days of drug therapy.

Researchers from the Perlmutter Cancer Center and those from the NYU School of Medicine tracked the circulating tumor DNA (“ctDNA”) for the cancer genes in blood samples of patients with stage iii and iv melanoma. It is at these stages that cancer has spread to several organs besides the skin.

Treating patients with skin cancer

Skin cancer patients cannot be treated with surgery because of the extent to which the disease spreads. Since surgery cannot be used, drugs such as trametinib and dabrafenib are undergoing clinical trials to help treat skin cancer. The medication targets only cancers with the BRAF gene mutation, and these genes are present in almost half of the skin cancer cases.

Using the new blood tests, researchers managed to discover BRAF mutation in over 90 percent of the participants before starting their treatment. In 40 percent of the patients, the BRAF ctDNA could not be detected from those patients who had been on medication for one month. These participant patients showed positive clinical outcomes, and their survival time was also increased by more than 28 months.

However, the other 60% of patients whose ctDNA was still detectable continued to show adverse clinical outcomes and were poorly responding to medication. These patients could only have a survival rate of up to 14 months. Since this new blood sample test shows very promising results, diagnosis can now be done at very early stages of skin cancer. It will help design excellent and timely treatment plans, which will be adjusted as the patient responds to treatment. Furthermore, it will also help in prolonging the average survival rates in patients.

These studies have also offered a stronger foundation and concrete evidence to track genetic information from patients. The data will help identify those patients whose cancer is shrinking and those who are capable of surviving for more extended periods due to the effects of particular drugs.

This research brings personalized cancer treatment a step closer, and sector firms like LexaGene Holdings Inc. (TSX.V: LXG) (OTCQB: LXXGF) could be following this development closely.

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