Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and deadliest type of brain cancer with a five-year survival rate of only 5%.
In a study from Penn State College of Medicine, scientists found a biomarker that can be used in blood tests to diagnose GBM, track its progression and guide treatment.
The researchers suggest that such a non-invasive liquid biopsy for GBM could help patients get the care they need more quickly.
Patients normally receive imaging, such as MRI or CT scans, to diagnose and track the progression of brain tumors, but it can be difficult for physicians to tell from those scans if the patient is getting better or worse because they don’t provide detail at the cellular or molecular level.
Indeed a liquid biopsy for glioblastoma could be of tremendous value to patients suffering from this devastating tumor.
In the study, researchers examined a certain antigen receptor known to be elevated in the tumor tissue of more than 75% of GBM patients.
To investigate the utility of this receptor as a biomarker for GBM, the researchers examined the tumor tissue and blood plasma of 79 patients with primary GBM, along with the blood plasma of 23 people without the brain cancer.
The team found that patients with GBM had much higher levels of the antigen receptor in their blood compared to control patients.
They also found that these receptor levels in blood were linked to the receptor levels in the patients’ tumors.
The team says the finding is especially important given that the receptor has been shown to have a patchy distribution in GBM tumors.
Interestingly, the team found that elevated levels of this receptor in both blood and tumors predicted longer overall survival.
Patients with high levels of the receptor in the blood had a 6.5 month longer overall survival compared to patients with low levels.
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The study was conducted by Vladimir Khristov et al and published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology.
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