Grant funds more individualized cancer therapy from a single blood draw
The Prostate Cancer Foundation has awarded a two-year, $1 million grant to a team of UW-Madison researchers, including Biomedical Engineering Professor Dave Beebe. The team, led by Joshua Lang, a Department of Medicine assistant professor, will use exclusion-based sample preparation methods developed in the Microtechnology Medicine Biology Lab for the project, “Biomarkers of therapeutic response and resistance to androgen receptor signaling inhibitors.”
The focus of the research springs from the development of a system to capture and analyze circulating tumor cells (CTCs), which are cells that have been shed from cancerous tumors and have entered the blood stream. The technology used to capture the CTCs is called vertical exclusion-based rare sample analysis (VERSA). By using VERSA, clinicians will eventually be able to analyze a single blood draw to determine the exact mutations within the cancerous cell, and subsequently identify specific drugs or drug combinations to most efficiently target those mutations. Additionally, the ease of collecting CTCs from a blood draw is far less invasive and painful than bone biopsies, and the frequency with which blood can be drawn will allow clinicians to keep real-time data on how a patient is responding to the drug treatments. With real-time data, researchers will be able to follow the effectiveness of drug treatments and alter treatments should the disease show resistance. The team hopes VERSA will enable more individualized cancer therapy for patients and will provide clinicians a window into cancer disease progression and drug resistance.