TGen Develops Personalized Liquid Biopsy To Monitor Breast Cancer

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Monday, August 12, 2019 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, August 12, 2019 - 9:18am
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Muhammed Murtaza

A woman living in the U.S. has a 1-in-8 chance of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.

Now, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen, has developed a liquid biopsy called "targeted digital sequencing," or TARDIS, to better monitor the disease.

The paper appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Doctors use a variety of approaches to treat nonmetastatic breast cancer.

But without a reliable way to monitor signs of the disease during and after treatment, they cannot gauge the effects of particular therapies.

They also risk overtreating the patient.

Current blood-sample-based diagnostics lack the necessary concentration of biomarkers so, to boost the signal, TGen's method tracks about 30 mutations specific to a patient's cancer.

"Because we take that approach, we can simultaneously assay much higher number of mutations instead of going for some sort of a set panel of genes that is applied to every patient at every time point," said senior author Muhammed Murtaza, co-director of TGen's Center for Noninvasive Diagnostics.

More effective monitoring could guide medical decisions involving tissue removal or radiation therapy.

Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute and TGen's parent institute, City of Hope, also contributed to the research, as did the University of Cambridge.