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09.02.2016 11:48

GENyO Makes New Advances in Cancer Research

Scientists from the University of Granada (UGR) and the Andalusian Health Service (SAS) have developed a new method in the fight against cancer at the Genomics and Oncology Research Centre (GENyO) in the Granada Health Science Technological Park (PTS). The new method consists of a simple blood test to identify the cells that cause metastasis and to find out how effective treatments will be as they are administered, without having to wait for the effects to become apparent.

Presentation of the research at GENyO.

GENyO's research project, one of the first of its type in Spain, is based on the liquid biopsy technique, used to extract information about the disease from the blood. According to GENyO researcher María José Serrano, the new method is a valuable addition to the medical toolkit, complementing the information provided by standard tissue biopsies. Likening the spread of cancer to a running race, the primary tumour would be the starting blocks and the metastasis would be the finish line; between the two, scientists can now see all the details of the track, almost completely uncharted territory until now. The new method will help to shed new light on each tumour in each patient.

According to the scientific director of GENyO and lead researcher of the Liquid Biopsy and Metastasis group that has patented the research, José Antonio Lorente, understanding the metastasis process is of huge clinical importance, as "more than 80% of cancer deaths are due to metastasis, not the original tumour, so understanding exactly how this mechanism works is essential if we want to design new and effective drugs."

Liquid biopsies are a relatively new concept in biomedical research and aim to provide personalised follow-up of cancer patients. The tests provide biological information about tumours in patients where solid biopsies cannot be obtained, for example in patients with metastatic lung cancer. They also provide extremely important information to complement the data provided by solid biopsies, because they help doctors to determine if the therapeutic targets identified in the biopsied tumours are still the same.

According to María José Serrano, liquid biopsies are already an essential part of treatment. She believes that this patented method could become a routine part of cancer care within the next five years. To date, trials of the new method have been conducted in patients with prostate, colon, breast and lung cancer.

The patents filed for this new method by the UGR and SAS could be acquired by a private company that could go on to sell the products necessary for its use.