A new study, funded by the Medical Research Council and Breast Cancer Now, has found that a new blood test for cancer DNA could predict if a patient is responding to the exciting new secondary breast cancer drug palbociclib, months earlier than current tests.
The research, published today in the journal 'Nature Communications', found that the test could detect whether the drug is working in the first couple weeks of treatment, but further development and validation will be needed before the test could be used clinically.
Currently, women must wait two to three months before undergoing a scan to find out if palbociclib is working.
In an international collaboration, scientists from the Breast Cancer Now Research Centre at The Institute of Cancer Research, London used blood samples from women with oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer – the most common form of the disease – who were taking part in a clinical trial of palbociclib for advanced breast cancer.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“It’s incredibly exciting that a new blood test to detect changes in circulating tumour DNA could predict how a woman’s cancer will respond to palbociclib much earlier than current methods, and we look forward to further validation of this approach.
“Palbociclib is a potentially life-changing drug, capable of slowing the spread of incurable breast cancer, but we need to find ways to identify who will benefit to help spare women from taking cancer drugs that won’t work.
“The wait to find out whether a new treatment is working can be a very anxious time, and innovative tests like this could be vital in helping patients get the most appropriate therapy as early as possible.
“While more refinement and testing is needed, these early findings show real promise, and we look forward to the arrival of a reliable blood test in the clinic to indicate early-on who will respond well to palbociclib, as well as to other breast cancer drugs.”
Breast Cancer Now thanks the Mary-Jean Mitchell Green Foundation for their generous support of this research.