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Publications of the Week

Circulating Tumor DNA Reveals Clinically-Actionable Somatic Genome of Metastatic Bladder Cancer

By August 14, 2017No Comments

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 This week we profile a recent publication in the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research
from the laboratory of Dr. Alexander Wyatt (pictured) at the Vancouver Prostate Cancer

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

Our group focuses on developing biomarkers for metastatic bladder and prostate cancer to help guide patient management, treatment and prognostication. We rely heavily on minimally-invasive ‘liquid’ biopsies since blood samples are easy to obtain in most clinical practices and practical to analyze.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

Exciting new treatment options have recently emerged for metastatic bladder cancer. However, because each patient’s cancer has distinct ‘molecular’ features, patient responses to these new therapies are highly variable. Therefore, efforts are underway to develop tools for determining the ideal therapy for each individual based on their tumor ‘molecular subtype’. In this study, funded by Bladder Cancer Canada, we developed a blood-based test to identify DNA mutations present in metastatic bladder tumors. This test relies on the fact that cancer cells sometimes shed their DNA into the circulating bloodstream, meaning that a small blood sample from a patient can contain tumor cell DNA. We found that most patients with metastatic bladder cancer can have their tumors analyzed in this manner. These results also represent the first time that a large cohort of metastatic bladder cancer patients have been molecularly profiled. Importantly, our work shows that it is feasible for patients to have real-time clinically-practical testing of their cancer’s DNA subtype, without the need for a direct tissue biopsy.

What are the next steps for this research?

We plan to continue to develop our blood test so that it can help guide rational therapy selection in advanced bladder cancer.

This work was supported by:

Bladder Cancer Canada.

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