A new method to use CTCs to diagnose/assess risk for prostate cancer?

In another breaking story from the UK, a company called Angle PLC has announced that its Parsortix diagnostic system can potentially be used to identify men with prostate cancer using a simple blood sample and testing for the presence of circulating tumor cells (CTCs).

In the company’s media statement and in a related story in The Daily Telegraph, there are data about tests done at the Barts Cancer Institute of the University of London and presented last Saturday at a symposium on liquid biopsy methods in Hamburg, Germany.

Basically, Angle claims that it’s new form of CTC testing can be used to both identify risk for clinically significant prostate cancer and, simultaneously, the aggressiveness of the form of the cancer — all based on a simple blood sample. If this is the case, it clearly has implications for how we might test for and diagnose prostate cancer in the future.

Here are some of the key data that were apparently presented by the company at the symposium in Hamburg:

  • The Parsortix system was able to detect CTCs in
    • 100 percent of blood samples from patients known to have metastatic prostate cancer.
    • 75 percent of blood samples from patients known to have localized forms of prostate cancer (including patients considered to be good candidates for active surveillance).
  • Data from the Parasortix analysis suggest that the Parsortix system may be able to assess the metastatic or localized status of the patient with a higher level of accuracy than the Gleason score.

The company is clear that there will be a good deal more work to be done to confirm whether the potential shown in these early tests, and carried out in conjunction with the Barts Clinical Institute on men known to actually have prostate cancer, can be confirmed prospectively in men whose cancer status is unknown or in transition. The media statement indicates that the relevant multi-center studies need to be carefully defined and then conducted, and that this might take another 18 months.

Even if the Parsortix test turns out not to be accurate enough for use in the early diagnosis of prostate cancer in general, it is possible that the test will have value in defining those patients who are at high-risk for micrometastatic or metastatic prostate cancer even prior to any signs of such metastasis on imaging tests of any currently kn own type.

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