Cancer Research: On the Trail of Circulating Tumor Cells
Researchers have a new tool for tracking metastasis: a device that plucks from a blood sample rare cells that can spread cancer throughout the body.
Clinical trials for cancer drugs must enroll hundreds to thousands of patients, taking lots of time and money. But with targeted therapies, doctors can predict which patients are likely to benefit by analyzing their tumors for mutations that the drug targets, leading to trials that are smaller, faster, cheaper—and more likely to succeed. A new drug for non-small-cell lung cancer—crizotinib, which inhibits ALK, a molecular signal that drives cancer growth—is a case in point. The drug probably would have failed in a typical clinical trial because it would have worked in few patients in a very broad patient base, but it sailed through its more targeted trial. Here’s a simplified comparison of the old and new modes of testing.Click on infographic for a larger PDF version.