Time is of the essence for patients battling cancer.
A new trial in Kingston, Ont., is improving the outcomes for Stage 4 breast cancer patients using blood tests to cut down the time it takes to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.
MDetect, a company started out of the Queen’s University Cancer Research Institute, has developed a blood test to accurately measure if a metastatic tumour is shrinking or continuing to grow, indicating whether or not the current therapy is working.
“We are hoping that this would help extend (patients’) lives but also to help improve their quality of life,” said Irsa Wiginton, MDetect’s business development operator.
The blood test works by identifying tumour cell DNA that is shed into the patient’s bloodstream. It requires one tube of blood, drawn every one or two weeks.
“So, by detecting that very sensitively we can say is there a tumour present, how much of it is present in the body,” said Dr. Christopher Mueller, a cancer researcher and founder of MDetect.
With metastatic breast cancer, the disease can spread to other organs, making it crucial to determine whether a treatment is working quickly.
CT scans are currently used to monitor treatment, but results often take months to get back.
Using bloodwork through MDetect’s test takes four to five days and will let oncologists know if the cancer is responding to treatment within a month.
“The series of blood tests that we have can impact 10 million people across North America and that’s a really large number of patients that we could potentially help with our test,” added Wiginton.
MDetect launched a clinical study in April and is currently recruiting 150 metastatic breast cancer patients to participate through Kingston General Hospital and Ottawa General Hospital.
The next step will be Health Canada and FDA approval, with the goal to be in the market within three years, when they hope their simple blood test can become an important tool in the ongoing fight against breast cancer.
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