New blood test could offer more tailored treatment of ovarian cancer

Sept. 8, 2014

A new blood test allowing doctors to predict which ovarian cancer patients will respond to particular types of treatment is a step closer following the publication of a new study. Researchers from The University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust say the test could be developed and used in hospitals within the next few years.

It would mean clinicians could see which patients could benefit from blood vessel-targeting drugs—such as bevacizumab—in addition to conventional therapy. Others who are not going to benefit would be spared the time and side effects associated with the drug. The study was published recently in Clinical Cancer Research.

The research team looked at blood samples from patients enrolled in an international trial of bevacizumab, which targets the development of new blood vessels within the tumor. These patients received either standard chemotherapy treatment alone or chemotherapy plus the blood vessel-targeting drug.

Gordon Jayson, PhD, co-leader of the study, says, “We are keen to identify predictive biomarkers—measures that can indicate how well a patient will respond to treatment—so we can better target these drugs to patients most likely to benefit. We investigated levels of a range of proteins in patients' pre-treatment blood samples to see if any were associated with improved survival.”

The findings show that two particular proteins—Ang1 and Tie2–could be used in combination to predict patient response. Patients with high levels of Ang1 and low levels of Tie2 were most likely to benefit from bevacizumab. Both these proteins are involved in controlling the formation of new blood vessels. Conversely, they found that patients with high levels of both proteins did not benefit from the additional drug. Read the study.

Read more