Cancerous tumors are considered as highly dangerous ones as these are capable of releasing other cancer cells into bloodstream. The circulating tumor cells or the CMCs act as sources of metastatic tumors, those tumors that are capable of spreading to other corners of human body and form new tumors. Maximum patients that die from cancer never succumb because of initial tumors but the metastatic tumors that are formed in different other parts of the body. Therefore, understanding biology of these cells and understanding their clinical relevance is of utmost significance.
Keeping a check on circulating tumor cells is a huge challenge and these are outnumbered by the regular healthy cells of body at a proportion of one to a billion. These are also capable of showing off several dynamic properties; the collection of these cells found in different patients can have varied metastatic potential. Therefore, an effort needs to be made to integrate analysis made for these cells in the mainstream clinical medicine field, till now the scope had been limited in this aspect as it was not possible to identify the kind of cells as well as their phenotypic properties, all these need to targeted. However, potential of these CTCs permits collection of non-invasive “liquid biopsy” that can keep a check over progression of cancer.
The biggest breakthrough in this field came from a team of researchers that was working under Professor Shana Kelley in the University of Toronto that claims for offering a completely new tool for characterizing CTCs that will help cancer clinicians and biologists in developing a better understanding of these cells and offering better treatment to their patients. Dr. Mahila Poudineh, the lead student author of this paper, says, “Through this approach, we aimed to provide a new way to profile CTCs beyond simply counting their numbers in clinical samples. Instead, we wanted to provide phenotypic information that might allow these cells to be classified as benign or more dangerous, which would then inform treatment options.” Dr. Kelley also says, “We were very fortunate to collaborate with a number of oncologists at the Sunnybrook Research Centre and Princess Margaret Hospital as we developed this technology so that we could test our approach with real patient specimens and better understand how to adapt it for use in the clinic.”
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