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Cancer patients ‘could be matched to personalised drugs via blood test’

Four in 11 patients saw their tumours shrink

Cancer patients who have exhausted all available treatments could be matched to experimental drugs via a blood test, researchers have said.

A study by the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Manchester Institute found analysing a small volume of a patient’s blood for faulty DNA allowed doctors to gather up-to-date genetic information about their tumour. 

Medics can use this DNA data to enrol patients onto a clinical trial testing a drug that specifically combats their tumour. 

In a trial of 11 patients, four of them saw their masses shrink as a result, according to the report by the Daily Mail.

Existing trial enrolment procedures require a cancer sufferer to undergo an invasive tumour biopsy, which is soon out-of-date because of the masses constantly evolving.

Researchers hope the simpler blood test will one day be available on the NHS and will allow doctors to quickly refer patients onto suitable trials.

Dr Matthew Krebs, author of the report, said the paradigm is shifting toward personalised 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,” he added. 

The researchers analysed 100 patients battling various types of cancer, including breast, bowel, prostate, lung and skin, as reported in the journal Nature Medicine.