Researchers Find Cancer 'Fingerprints'

Rearranged chromosomes can be used to ID tumors, personalize treatment
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2010 11:14 AM CST
A cancer test.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Scientists have developed a new, more accurate method of tracking specific cancers using genetic “fingerprints”— the unique way every cancer rearranges chromosomes. Those rearrangements can be pinpointed with new genetic sequencing methods, allowing doctors to follow the cancer’s trail in the blood. The breakthrough is a key to more accurately monitoring the effects of treatment and tailoring it to specific patients.

Other methods are good for tracking certain cancers, a researcher tells HealthDay, but at present there is no “universal method of accurate surveillance.” The new technique could change that. In a trial, “no two patients had the same exact rearrangements and the rearrangements occurred only in tumor samples, not in normal tissue.” And the test “tracks very nicely with the clinical history of the tumor.” The researchers hope the method, Personalized Analysis of Rearranged Ends, will soon cost less than a CT scan.

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