Leicester scientist developing blood test to monitor changes in breast cancer over time

Posted by ap507 at Nov 26, 2014 04:20 PM |
Dr David Guttery involved in new cancer study

Dr David Guttery from the Department of Cancer Studies is developing a new test that reads the DNA released from breast cancer cells into the blood, which will help doctors monitor how a patient’s breast cancer changes over time.

If breast cancer comes back or spreads to a new location, it can differ from the original tumour and subsequently treatments may not work as effectively. This means there is a need for new methods to be able to easily and safely monitor how the disease is evolving and responding to treatments.

Currently, a needle biopsy is needed to check whether a person’s tumour has changed. However, with support from a grant worth around £20,000 from research charity Breast Cancer Campaign, Dr Guttery is in the process of developing a less invasive method to do this, using a blood test.

Dr Guttery is designing a blood test tailored to read the code of the DNA released from breast cancer cells, called ‘cell-free DNA’ (cfDNA). Current cfDNA tests in development are designed to check for mutations in cfDNA from cancer patients, but Dr Guttery is creating the first of these blood tests especially tailored for breast cancer patients.

In order to develop the test, Dr Guttery will use blood samples donated by people with advanced breast cancer, as well as breast cancer cells grown in the lab.