Canadians Find Better Way to Screen for Drug-resistant Prostate Cancer

Canadians Find Better Way to Screen for Drug-resistant Prostate Cancer
A new approach to detecting tumor cells in the blood offers a minimally invasive alternative to identifying prostate cancer patients who may not respond to first-line treatments, Canadian researchers report. They said the technology could be used to screen for drug-resistant tumor cells. The study describing their approach, “Single-cell mRNA cytometry via sequence-specific nanoparticle clustering and trapping,” appeared in the journal Nature Chemistry. "Screening for drug resistance is key to improving treatment approaches for many cancers," Shana Kelley, a University of Toronto professor who was senior author of the study, said in a press release. "It's important for patients not to be on a therapy that won't help them, and it's also important for healthcare systems to avoid, whenever possible, delivering ineffective treatments," she added. The technology focuses on circulating tumor cells, which leave a primary tumor for the blood and can spread the cancer to other parts of the body. Analyzing the cells is important because they provide information that can be crucial to treatment decision-making. In tumors that are drug-resistant, circulating tumor cells often have high levels of particular messenger RNAs (mRNAs), or molecules that help genes produce proteins. This means the mRNA can be used as biomarkers of tumor drug resistance. But capturing circulating tumor cells is challenging because they are present in very low numbers in the blood. The Toronto team's technology is a step toward overcoming this problem. Using magnetic nanoparticles containing probes for the mRNAs associated with drug resistance, researchers can trap the tumor cells in a microfluid device built in a lab. The technique can identify tumor cells that could be
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