Can RNA in Platelets Diagnose and Classify Cancer and Identify Treatment Strategies?

Logos 005A new study published in the journal Cancer Cell, concluded that from an analysis of tumor RNA  carried in platelets, that play a role in clotting, may be more useful than other liquid biopsy technologies for diagnosing cancer and determining its primary location and potential therapeutic approaches. The researchers found that platelets that have taken up tumor RNA can distinguish among blood samples of healthy individuals and those of patients with six types of cancer. determine the location of the primary tumor, and identify tumors carrying mutations that can guide therapeutic decision making. Researchers said “By combining next-generation sequencing gene expression profiles of platelet RNA with computational algorithm Platelet  we developed. we were able to detect the presence of cancer with 96% accuracy.” …..”RNA signatures also provide valuable information on the type of tumor present in the body and can guide selection of the most optimal treatment for individual patients.” Results were based upon isolated platelets from blood samples taken from 55 healthy individuals, 39 individuals with early stage cancer and 189 patients with advanced metastatic cancer. Patients had either small-cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer, glioblastoma, pancreatic cancer, hepatobiliary cancer or breast cancer.

After analyzing a drop of blood from each individual researchers found more than 5,000 different platelet RNAs. Comparing RNA profiles of healthy individuals with those of cancer patients showed increased levels of almost 1500 RNA molecules–many involved in cancer-associated processes–and reductions of almost 800 in samples from cancer patients. Examining levels of about 1,000 RNAs from almost 300 individuals with the algorithms that classified whether of not cancer was present did so with 96% accuracy. All of the patients with localized tumors and 33 or the 39 with tumors of the central nervous system were accurately diagnosed. Platelet RNA profiles also correctly identified the particular type of cancer in each patient. Research is ongoing.

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