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Blood test breakthrough targets most effective cancer treatment

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A simple blood test being developed by Queensland and Swiss researchers could soon help determine which treatment is likely to be most effective for individual cancer patients, helping them avoid the harmful side effects of some therapies.

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The QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute findings aim to cut the need for stressful, invasive procedures that were destined to have little impact on a cancer patient and boost the chances of successful treatment.

Associate Professor Andreas Möller, head of QIMR Berghofer’s Tumour Micro-environment Research Group, said the blood test removed a “one size fits all” approach and could give doctors a better chance of making the right decision about how to treat the specific situation of each patient.

“At the moment, clinicians have no reliable way of predicting whether a particular patient will respond better to chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or any other therapy,” Möller said.

“This blood test could quickly and accurately indicate the most effective treatment for an individual patient.”

Möller said the test analysed exosomes, which are tiny, fluid-filled sacs that are shed by tumour cells into the blood of patients. The exosomes contain “miniature blueprints” of what is in the cancer cell.

“These exosomes offer insight into how cancer cells will likely behave. If their contents suggest a person’s cancer cells will not respond to a given therapy, then their clinician can explore more effective alternatives,” he said.

The QIMR Berghofer blood test research is in partnership with Swiss technology start-up Biopsomic.

Biopsomic co-founder and co-inventor of the test, Dr Antoine Leimgruber, said the technology aimed to provide personalised cancer management and “avoid non-useful and potentially harmful interventions.”

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