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VCU Massey Cancer Center


New technology improves detection of prostate cancer cells in a patient’s bloodstream

VCU Massey Cancer Center continues to test new technology by ApoCell, Inc. that can detect circulating tumor cells (CTC) in a patient’s bloodstream. In April, Massey reported on a pilot study of the device in liver cancer patients, and now a new study demonstrates that the device can effectively collect CTCs in patients with metastatic prostate cancer.

The study led by Andrew Poklepovic, M.D., an oncologist at VCU Massey in the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care and an assistant professor of internal medicine at VCU School of Medicine, directly compared ApoCell, Inc.’s ApoStream dielectrophoretic cell separation system to the current standard CTC detection platform. ApoStream detected CTCs in all eight patients and collected significantly more CTCs than the other leading CTC detection system, which detected CTCs in just 80 percent of the patients.

“There is a huge increase in the amount of data we are able to collect on the circulating tumor cells with the ApoCell device,” says Poklepovic. “We plan to continue testing ApoStream on various forms of cancer. In addition, we hope to utilize the device in future clinical trials to test for biological changes in the tumor cells caused by the therapies.”

VCU Massey is already using the device in one clinical trial for prostate cancer that combines the drug lapatinib with radiation therapy for patients with bone metastases. In this study, the researchers are examining the cancer cells collected by ApoStream for changes induced by radiation that may lead to further proliferation of the cancer. This type of analysis would not be possible with other CTC capture techniques because in those devices the cancer cells of interest are not captured effectively.

“This technology could potentially eliminate the need for painful biopsies, be used as a screening tool and speed up the development of new drugs,” says Poklepovic. “We are excited to be one of the first cancer centers currently utilizing this technology and eventually we hope to expand the use of the device for a wider variety of cancers and also in earlier stages of the disease.”

This pilot study was supported, in part, with funding from VCU Massey Cancer Center’s NIH-NCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA016059.

Written by: Alaina Schneider

Posted on: June 25, 2012

Category: Research