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Liquid Biopsy Study Shows Promising Results for Patients with Pancreatic and Bile Duct Tumors

Mar 29, 2016 08:55AM ● By MED Magazine

The Avera Institute for Human Genetics in Sioux Falls, S.D., is part of a clinical study demonstrating the usefulness of genetic testing of blood samples, serving as “liquid biopsies” to characterize difficult-to-access tissues in the pancreas and biliary system, without an invasive or surgical biopsy.

Positive results of the study were recently published in the Jan. 12, 2016 issue of Annals of Oncology.

Obtaining a biopsy of tumors in the pancreas or bile duct typically requires surgery along with a stay in the hospital, adding risk, cost and discomfort to the patient.

Being able to isolate shed exosomes in blood, scientists used genetic data generated by the AIHG’s laboratory to obtain tumor profiles for each patient.

This data enables clinical oncologists to identify DNA mutations that are specific for a patient, and in turn target these mutations with chemotherapy regimens. “The ultimate goal of this research is to translate these findings to treating patients safely and effectively,” said Erik Ehli, PhD, Research Scientist at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics.

Also, RNA sequencing of the samples identified the presence of expressed fusion genes, representing a potential avenue for elucidation of tumor neoantigens, which could help make personalized immunotherapy treatments a reality.

These treatments would be tailored to the specific makeup of the patient’s tumor as it evolves over time to help ensure continued treatment effectiveness. 

“This is the true essence of precision health care. We’re excited to be a part of this groundbreaking research which could represent giants steps forward in cancer care,” said Ryan Hansen, Administrative Director of the Avera Institute for Human Genetics.