Researchers from the Spanish National Center for Oncological Research (CNIO), together with researchers from the Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid and the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute in Poland developed a detection method (liquid biopsy) to track the presence of melanoma cells in the body through fluid analysis. This method, published in Experimental Medicine, could revolutionize the monitoring of this type of tumor, one of the most invasive and with the higher rates of relapse after the operation (50% percent of patients).
The CNIO reported that the new technique consists in performing an analysis on the drainage that is extracted from the surgery, which is discarded after the operation. However, this fluid is more valuable than previously thought, as it contains biomarkers that reveal the presence of specific mutations of the melanoma and that therefore help to identify which patients are at risk of relapsing after the intervention.
Possible use in other types of tumors
The next challenges for the researchers will be to see if this “liquid biopsy” can be done in an even simpler way, directly from blood samples, and explore the method’s potential to expand its use to other tumors.
The CNIO has said the better we know metastasis, the more we know it is a process that primary tumors organize conscientiously, sending ‘advance parties’ to other organs to prepare a suitable environment to continue developing. These ‘advance parties’ are extracellular vesicles, which are particles released by the primary tumor to prepare other organs to accommodate cancer cells.
This is one of the main research lines of Héctor Peinado, director of the research and head of the CNIO’s Microenvironment and Metastasis Group.
Peinado said this study have confirmed that, in melanoma patients, you can identify the risk group that is more likely to experience a relapse from a very sensitive and accurate analysis of its exudative seroma.
This seroma is a fluid obtained from the drainage implanted to the patients after the surgery, the CNIO has specified, and has indicated that the liquid biopsy applied to this seroma reveals the presence of extracellular vesicles and circulating DNA containing mutations in the “BRAF” gene, which are associated with a worse survival in melanoma.
According to Héctor Peinado, these tests could be performed in hospitals and would be easily applicable in clinical medicine. He also said that the technique could be applied to other types of cancer such as breast cancer or others in which lymph node extraction is performed and in which a drainage is implanted after the surgical intervention.