Characterising the phenotypic evolution of circulating tumour cells during treatment
© KATERYNA KON/Science Photo Library/Getty
A blood test that uses gold nanoparticles to track tumour cells circulating in the body can reveal in real time how cancers are progressing and evolving in response to ongoing treatment.
A team led by University of Queensland researchers developed the diagnostic test by attaching different antibodies to tiny particles of gold. Each antibody can stick to a different protein found on the surfaces of circulating tumour cells (CTCs). When struck with laser light, the nanoparticles emit barcode signals. These signals change slightly when proteins are bound to the nanoparticles, thereby revealing the full diversity of CTCs in a patient.
The researchers validated the system using blood from 10 patients with advanced melanoma skin cancer who were undergoing immunotherapy or receiving a targeted drug agent. The test revealed changes in the CTC population make-up in response to treatment, including the presence of drug-resistant cells — information that could help guide therapeutic decision making.
- Nature Communications 9, 1482 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03725-8