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Improving current cancer detection and treatment follow-up through the development of a next generation cancer assay.

Each year, an estimated 8.2 million people die of cancer. With appropriate detection methods and treatment, many of these deaths would be avoidable. Due to the high incidence and mortality rates, early and accurate diagnosis is paramount for a quick and adequate treatment of patients. Until recently, no truly non-invasive diagnostic methods for the detection of cancer existed. An attractive novel method is the detection of abnormally expressed biological markers manifested during carcinogenesis in so called "liquid biopsies". Liquid biopsy is a technique in which non-solid biological tissues such as urine, stool or peripheral blood, are sampled and analysed for disease diagnosis.The analysis of Circulating tumor DNA (CtDNA) in cancer patients is not new and has been performed in the past. However, until now, a strong focus existed on the detection of tumor specific mutations, which has several limitations. The use of methylation markers instead of mutation markers has many advantages and is understudied.We have recently published GSDME as a highly sensitive and specific methylation biomarker for both breast and colorectal cancer. We wish to build upon these data and extend our search for suitable cancer detection biomarkers genome wide.One of the problems with liquid biopsy nucleic acid biomarkers is the limited sensitivity for early detection. Indeed, in early stages of carcinogenesis, many tumor types have low concentrations of CtDNA. Sensitivity can be increased by measuring a multitude of markers simultaneously. However, to date, no efficient techniques exist that allow multi-region methylation analysis in plasma. Therefore, in this project, we will design a novel technique, next generation high resolution methylation detection in plasma of cancer patients and develop a novel multi-region pan-cancer detection assay, based on genome wide methylation tumor data. We believe that this novel technology is able to increase sensitivity 100 - 1000 fold while reducing the cost more than a 100 fold compared to the standard technologies that are used nowadays. Finally, we will validate our novel technique and assay in clinical samples.
Date:1 Feb 2020  →  Today
Disciplines:Epigenetics, Cancer diagnosis