Researchers at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are developing a simple blood test that could be used to predict the risk of cancer spreading in a patient.
Foundation Awardee Associate Professor Punyadeera and her team identified clusters of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the blood of recently diagnosed head and neck cancer patients, which had not spread to other organs. Six out seven patients with stage IV head and neck cancer who had CTC clusters, developed secondary cancers within 6 months. An absence of CTCs or CTC clusters in patients with head and neck cancer suggested no systemic spread.
CTCs can be distinguished from other cells in a small blood sample, by use of a microfluidic chip invented by biomedical engineer Dr Ian Papautsky (see main image).
“This finding is potentially an important prognostic tool that could guide doctors’ choice of therapies as we move to personalised medicine for individual patients,” says Associate Professor Punyadeera. “This work has been expanded into lung cancers where there are more targeted therapies.”
Channel 7 news in Australia recently highlighted this outstanding work. Click here to download the segment.
Congratulations to Associate Professor Punyadeera for yet another diagnostic breakthrough. To view her Awardee profile, please click here.
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