“Liquid Biopsy” (ctDNA) Predicts Lymphoma Therapy Success Within Days, Stanford-Led Study Finds

A blood test can predict which patients with a type of cancer called diffuse large B cell lymphoma are likely to respond positively to initial therapy and which are likely to need more aggressive treatment, according to a multicenter study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study validates the clinical usefulness of tracking the rise and fall of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in the blood of patients before and after therapy. It suggests that clinicians may soon be able to determine how a patient is responding to treatment within days or weeks of starting therapy rather than waiting until therapy is completed five to six months later. "Although conventional therapy can cure the majority of patients with even advanced B cell lymphomas, some don't respond to initial treatment," said Associate Professor of Medicine Ash Alizadeh, MD, PhD. "But we don't know which ones until several months have passed. Now, we can predict nonresponders within 21 days after the initiation of treatment by tracking the levels of ctDNA in a patient's blood. We can look earlier and make a reliable prediction about outcome." The study was published online on August 20, 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The article is titled “Circulating Tumor DNA Measurements As Early Outcome Predictors in Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma.” Dr. Alizadeh shares senior authorship with Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology Maximilian Diehn, MD, PhD. Instructor of Medicine David Kurtz, MD, PhD, and postdoctoral scholar Florian Scherer, MD, are the lead authors. Diffuse large B cell lymphoma, a blood cancer, is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
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