Towards an early and refined diagnosis and treatment of cancer

A team of French researchers could well have made a major advance for two factors which play an essential role in the remission of a patient suffering from cancer, namely the precocity of the diagnosis and the therapeutic management.

With more than 380,000 new cases recorded in 2015, the fight against cancer is more than ever a matter of public health. The precocity of the diagnosis and the therapeutic management constitute essential prognostic factors in the possibilities of remission of the patient. Patrizia Paterlini-Bréchot and her team have developed a method of isolation by size of tumour/trophoblastic cells (ISET) capable of very early detection of rare circulating cells (CRC) present in the blood and announcing very early on the appearance of a cancerous tumor. They publish their results in the journal PLOS One.

These cells are of two types: circulating tumor cells (CTC) and circulating tumor microemboli (CTM). One of the technical problems in collecting CTCs is related to their fragility. However, in order to use them optimally, it is of primary importance to be able to recover them from the blood in a highly sensitive manner and without loss of quality of these cells in order to carry out an effective molecular study.

This study describes a new protocol for enriching live CTCs from blood using the ISET method and promoting this collection.  » We evaluated the impact of this enrichment method on antigen expression, cytoskeleton structure, cell viability of living tumor cells and their ability to grow in culture. We also analyzed the in vitro performance of ISET to harvest extremely rare fixed and live intact cancer cells. says Professor Paterlini-Bréchot, professor of cell biology and oncology at Paris Descartes University and researcher in the “Immunology, infectiology and hematology” department of the Institut Necker Enfants Malades – Molecular Medicine Center (Paris Descartes University /INSERM/CNRS), in a press release from the CNRS.

The results obtained show that the ISET method makes it possible to achieve a very high level of precision in the diagnosis of cancers on a very small blood sample. Indeed, it is possible to detect fixed and living tumor cells on a simple sample of 10 ml of blood. The sensitivity of these tests is excellent with a detection threshold of a tumor cell in 83 to 100% of cases. This extremely high threshold is maintained when plasma is collected prior to tumor cell isolation.

In addition, a comparative analysis of the DNA of tumor cells was carried out by high-throughput sequencing before and after their isolation from blood and in culture. This genetic analysis will make it possible to further refine the diagnostic aspects and the rapid implementation of a therapeutic protocol adapted to each patient. Finally, the fact of having succeeded in isolating these living tumor cells and then cultivating them in vitro opens up many perspectives on the body’s immune reactions to cancer.

“Indeed, the in vitro culture of cancer cells will make it possible in the future to test therapies upstream in order to know if they can act on these cancers. It may also make it possible to use cultured circulating cancer cells to stimulate the body’s immune response against cancer, a promising prospect in the fight against this disease. concludes Professor Paterlini-Bréchot.

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