EORTC-NCI-AACR 2016: Liquid Biopsies Identify Molecular Alterations Driving GI Cancer Drug Resistance in Nearly 80% of Patients

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Ryan Corcoran, MD, PhD, Translational Research Director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center, described to attendees of the 2016 EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics the results of a program at MGH focused on uncovering how gastrointestinal (GI) cancers develop resistance to targeted therapies (Abstract 4LBA).

“To understand GI cancers develop resistance to targeted therapies, we employed a systematic ‘liquid biopsy’ program within the GI cancer center at MGH, by which blood was collected at the time that a patient’s disease stopped responding to treatment and the disease started to progress. Circulating tumor DNA was analyzed by next-generation sequencing to identify mutations that emerged during therapy to drive resistance to treatment,” explained Dr. Corcoran.

“Circulating tumor DNA is shed by tumor cells throughout the body into the bloodstream and can be isolated from a routine blood draw. Since tumor cells residing in different metastatic tumor lesions in the same patient can often evolve distinct mechanisms of drug resistance, ‘liquid biopsy’ analysis of circulating tumor DNA can frequently identify the simultaneous presence of multiple resistance alterations that would be missed by a single-lesion tumor biopsy,” he continued.

Findings

“In 31 patients, this liquid biopsy program identified a molecular...