The FNIH Launches New Project to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Liquid Biopsies as Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer Patients

May 3, 2016 — The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Biomarkers Consortium is launching a research partnership to determine whether liquid biopsies can be used instead of traditional solid tumor biopsies for diagnosing and monitoring metastatic colorectal cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, metastatic colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Peter Kuhn, PhD, of the University of Southern California (USC), will lead the project team for “High Definition Single Cell Analysis of Blood and Tissue Biopsies in Patients with Colorectal Cancer Undergoing Hepatic Metastasectomy” (HD-SCA). The team is comprised of experts from the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, USC, Scripps Clinic, Baylor College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic and four sponsoring pharmaceutical companies.

Tumor characterization by biopsy has the potential to be used to make decisions at every stage of cancer therapy. Ideally, doctors would design the most appropriate therapy by analyzing tumor biopsy material before beginning treatment. Then, the response of the tumor to treatment would be determined by analyzing biopsies throughout and after therapy. Finally, doctors could monitor remission or early signs of recurrence by periodically testing for tumor growth.

However, traditional solid tumor biopsy use is limited because the procedure is often invasive, cannot be done sequentially and does not always provide enough material for analysis. The HD-SCA project addresses the challenges of traditional solid tumor biopsy by measuring the characteristics of tumor cells from an easily accessible source: tumor cells found in the blood (liquid biopsy). The primary goal of this Biomarkers Consortium project is to determine how well biomarker measurements compare between solid tumor and liquid biopsies from patients with colorectal cancer. If liquid biopsy proves to perform as well as solid-tissue biopsy analysis, it could allow detailed, rapid and non-invasive tumor testing. This type of tumor analysis is essential for the broad application of personalized medicine in cancer.

Funding Partners:

AbbVie, Amgen Inc., Daiichi-Sankyo, Inc. and Eli Lilly and Company

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