LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Scientists from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA announced today they have created a new device which could enable doctors to create personalized prostate cancer treatments.
If more studies confirm the technology's effectiveness, the NanoVelcro Chip would enable doctors to access and identify cancerous cells in the bloodstream, which would provide the diagnostic information needed to create individually tailored treatments, according to Cedars-Sinai.
Researchers said the technology may function as a "liquid biopsy," changing conventional biopsy practices and significantly advancing the field of personalized medicine.
Today's biopsies require the removal of tissue samples through a needle inserted into a solid tumor, a procedure that is invasive and sometimes painful. Biopsies are extremely difficult in metastatic prostate cancer because the disease often spreads to bone, where the availability of the tissue is low.
The new device can identify and "grab" circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, that break away from cancers and enter the blood, often leading to the spread of cancer to other parts of the body, the scientists said.
The biggest challenges in the treatment of cancer are that every person's tumor differs greatly and often mutates over time, especially in response to treatment.
The researchers hope that by analyzing these CTCs, doctors will be able to understand the tumor evolution in each individual. By monitoring the genetic changes in CTCs and their invasiveness in a tissue culture dish, doctors may be able to quickly adjust their treatment plans in response.
"We are optimistic that the use of our NanoVelcro CTC technology will revolutionize prostate cancer treatment," said Dr. Edwin M. Posadas, senior author of an article on the device in the March online issue of Advanced Materials.
"We know that cancers evolve over time and that every patient's cancer is a unique problem -- the 'one-size-fits-all' approach is not going to allow us to cure prostate cancer or any other cancer," said Posadas, medical director of the Urologic Oncology Program at Cedars-Sinai's Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.