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HomeInformationHealthCambridge Institute investigates a blood tests to monitor tumors instead of biopsies
New technology to identify the presence of cancer

Cambridge Institute investigates a blood tests to monitor tumors instead of biopsies


The U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker, AstraZeneca  will work with Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology on a new technology that measures tumor DNA circulating in the blood and can identify the presence of cancer in plasma. The test can detect whether cancer is progressing and treatment is working. Doctors now use biopsies or imaging to monitor progression of the disease and whether the patient is responding to treatment.

The projects include using blood tests to monitor tumors instead of biopsies, potential drugs for prostate cancer, and new approaches for pancreatic cancer, which has a very poor prognosis and few treatments available, the company said on Tuesday.

The agreement supports Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot’s plan to use acquisitions, partnerships and the company’s own research to replace revenue lost to patent expirations. AstraZeneca can use the information to design medicines as the test can determine new genetic alterations to target, said Carl Barrett, vice president of translational science in AstraZeneca’s Oncology Innovative Medicines unit.

The company and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute will work with Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge University Hospitals to test AstraZeneca’s experimental cancer treatment olaparib in combination with another therapy called AZD2014 to treat advanced prostate cancer patients with a poor prognosis. Olaparib, which prevents cancer cells from repairing themselves, has been shown to benefit patients with the BRCA mutations. The combination therapy may help patients without the mutation respond to the treatment.

AstraZeneca will team up with the Babraham Institute in Cambridge and its Cancer Research UK and Cambridge University partners to develop new therapies for patients with pancreatic cancer. Patients diagnosed with this type of cancer often don’t have long to live and there are few treatments available, Barrett said. The program will test the company’s experimental treatment selumetinib in combination with other therapies in laboratory models, Barrett said.

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