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Researchers use blood samples to improve clinical trial matching

May 9, 2019

Finding the right clinical trials for very sick patients may be getting more precise and timely.

Rather than enrolling patients in a trial based on their cancer type or a biopsy conducted months or years earlier, researchers in the UK recently used blood tests to get an up-to-date profile of genetic faults in the blood of 100 patients. In 11 cases, the researchers used the data to enroll them into an available “molecularly matched” clinical trial.

Timing is critical since a tumor biopsied months or years ago may not represent a patient’s current disease state because of tumors’ evolutionary changes over time, the University of Manchester said in news release.

“Historically, patients who have exhausted other options but are still reasonably well might access a clinical trial based on their cancer type, but without that new therapy being targeted to their tumor’s particular genetic profile,” explained Dr Matthew Krebs, the lead clinician of the study from The University of Manchester and The Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

“Now, that paradigm is shifting toward personalized medicine. By understanding the genetic faults underpinning a patient’s cancer from a blood test, as demonstrated in this study, this raises the hope of matching more patients to a specific targeted clinical trial treatment with better chance of benefit.”

Blood testing might guide treatment changes

Researchers say they are now working to make the test more sensitive and adding new elements to it in order to understand more about a patient’s disease. “We are also taking several blood samples over time to see if a faulty gene(s) is disappearing with treatment, or if there is emergence of a new genetic fault that could lead to treatment resistance,” said Professor Caroline Dive, the laboratory lead author of the study from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. “This would allow us to stop a failing treatment and consider new options to stay a step ahead of the disease.”

Once again, blood proves to be a tremendously valuable biofluid, capable of yielding myriad insights with minimal invasion in the collection process. Blood is one many human biospecimens available through the iSpecimen Marketplace, and comes in a variety of forms, including, whole blood, plasma, serum, and buffy coat. Researchers can filter searches for biofluids and other biospecimens — including tissue and viable cells — on a wide range of attributes, including blood type, disease condition and analyte as well as patient age, sex, ethnicity and more.

As clinical trial matching promises to become more precise and timely, so, fortunately, does procurement of valuable biospecimens.

Learn about the iSpecimen Marketplace where you can browse millions of richly annotated, de-identified human tissue and biofluid biospecimens, in addition to hematopoietic and immune cell products. You can join for free and creating a login is easy. Request a quote or custom collection today.