In DepthBiomedicine

Blood test may predict cancer immunotherapy benefit

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Science  29 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6396, pp. 1387
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6396.1387

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Some cancers generate the seeds of their own destruction. Ten years ago, researchers discovered that certain random mutations that accumulate in rapidly dividing tumor cells can spur the immune system to attack the cancer. Lately, researchers have found that the extent of such mutations can predict whether a cancer will respond to new, powerful immune-based therapies. Cancer researchers can already gauge this tumor mutational burden (TMB) by sequencing a panel of select genes in biopsied tissue, an approach that recently demonstrated strong predictive power in a large lung cancer clinical trial. Some cancer physicians now even use tissue TMB tests in select cases. Now, a less-invasive blood test, which analyzes tumor DNA shed into a person's circulation, could reveal TMB in the many patients where tissue testing doesn't work