“Liquid biopsy”: Diagnosing and treating brain tumors with a simple blood test

The test, described as a “liquid biopsy”, is believed to be a world first and could reduce the need for the risky surgery currently required to diagnose some brain tumours.

Experts say the test could also lead to earlier diagnosis, which could speed up treatment and increase survival rates for patients with one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer.

Patients with inoperable brain tumors may particularly benefit from 'liquid biopsy', as early diagnosis will allow treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation to start sooner.

According to Sky News, scientists in the United Kingdom have already studied the experiment and now hope to conduct trials on a larger scale.

If the trial is successful, it could be brought to the health service within two years, experts say.

What is a liquid biopsy test?

• The TriNethra-Clio test, developed by Tater Cancer Genetics, works by isolating cells released from a tumor into a person's blood.
• Isolated cells can then be stained and identified under a microscope.
• The trial was carried out by researchers at the Center for Brain Tumor Research, run by Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
• Researchers are conducting the first studies to assess whether the test can accurately detect gliomas that form in the brain and can grow to press on brain tissue or the spinal cord.
• Other tumors that can be detected by the test include glioblastoma, the most common type of brain tumor diagnosed in adults, as well as astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.
• Researchers found the test had “high analytical sensitivity, specificity and accuracy,” according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer.

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Dr Nilofar Syed, head of the Brain Tumor Research Center at Imperial College London, said: “A non-invasive and inexpensive way to detect brain tumors early is crucial to improving patient care. There is still a long way to go. The solution could help people.” “For whom brain biopsy or surgical removal of the tumor is not feasible due to its location or other limitations.”

He added: “With this technology, tumors that cannot be accessed by blood tests can be safely detected. We believe this will be a first in the world, as there are currently no non-invasive or radiological tests available. For these types of tumors.”

He concluded his speech: “This test helps speed up diagnosis and enables surgeons to use personalized treatment based on that biopsy to increase patients' chances of survival.”

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