Researchers including an Indian-origin scientist have suggested that it’s possible that a simple blood test could be developed to see if gene mutations associated with pancreatic cancer exist without the need of locating and testing tumor tissue.
This appears possible following the discovery that tiny particles the size of viruses called ‘exosomes,’ which are shed by cancer cells into the blood, contain the entire genetic blueprint of cancer cells.
By decoding this genomic data and looking for deletions and mutations associated with cancer, the research team believes this discovery could be translated into a test that helps physicians detect cancer and treat patients.
Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D., chairman and professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Cancer Biology, said that at present, there is no single blood test that can screen for all cancer related DNA defects.
He said that because different forms of cancer are associated with different chromosomal mutations, they believe analysis of exosome DNA taken from blood samples may not only help determine the presence of a cancerous tumor somewhere in the body but also identify mutations without a need for tumor sample.
Kalluri asserted that they believe that this “fingerprint” will help lead them to the likely site of the tumor in the body.
The research has been published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.