Tumor cells that circulate freely in blood vessels have been deemed as potential indications of cancer being spread to other parts of the body for a very long time. The fact is, however, that most free-floating cancer cells in blood vessels do not lead to the formation of a new tumor. But according to a new research, if these free-floating tumors are accurately counted, they can prove to be beneficial for tracking the treatment in a more effective manner and help in the better screening of the disease.
Seungpyo Hong and his team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have built the research on several years of research revolving these cast-off tumor cells, also called circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and have demonstrated improved ways of capturing them in clinical samples for the first time ever. The researchers proceeded by slowing down cancer cells and developed cancer-specific antibodies strong enough to trap CTCs. This allowed researchers to identify vast numbers of free-floating tumors in cancer patients that were undergoing radiation therapy.
Researchers found out that the number of free-floating tumor cells in the blood vessels reduced during the therapy and increased again in the patients that were found to need additional treatment. This suggests that the technology can work as a supplementary technique with other techniques for supervising the progress of the treatment.
The detailed study has been published in the scientific journal Clinical Cancer Research. The research also saw collaboration from researchers across the South Korea’s Yonsei University, University of Illinois, Chicago, and Duke University. The research was, in part, funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health.