Way to measure the effectiveness of blood cancer drug

Researchers have developed a new method to monitor the effect of anti-cancer drugs on people suffering from a type of blood cancer.

IANS| Updated: Mar 01, 2015, 14:39 PM IST

London: Researchers have developed a new method to monitor the effect of anti-cancer drugs on people suffering from a type of blood cancer.

The new antibody-based approach that monitors the effect of drugs on small samples of cells could allow doctors to screen patients and personalise their treatment.

"This new approach will enable us to test drugs on cells taken from patients, either at presentation or in a clinical trial setting," said lead researcher Tony Whetton from the University of Manchester in Britain.

"It has great potential to allow us to implement precision medicine, whereby patients receive the most appropriate treatment to target their individual tumour," Whetton added.

The recent development of novel agents has improved outcomes for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).

These so-called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) target abnormal proteins caused by commonly found genetic mutations in CML patients.

However, the existence of treatment-resistant cancer stem cells - cells that are able to repeatedly renew the leukaemia cell population - is one way by which many patients experience disease recurrence when treatment stops.

Any new drug must therefore be tested on such stem cells, but unfortunately they are only found in very low numbers.

"Current techniques require greater numbers of cells in order to detect changes caused by TKIs. Our study investigated the potential of a new technology platform that can identify changes in very small cell numbers," Whetton said.