The first epigenetic test to diagnose tumors of unknown origin

August 26, 2016

In patients with cancer, initial diagnosis most often includes the detection of the primary or original tumor and the presence or absence of metastases, ie cells from the original tumor that have escaped from their original location and are growing into other tissues of the patient. However, in between 5% and 10% of human tumors this process is done otherwise: metastasis is diagnosed, but the primary tumor is not detected despite various diagnostic testing. This situation is called Cancer of Unknown Primary (CUP). As the type of tumor is not known, the survival of these patients it is very limited.

Today, an article published in The Lancet Oncology, the most prestigious journal in the Medical Oncology field, by Dr. Manel Esteller, director of the Epigenetics and Cancer Biology Program (PEBC) of of Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), ICREA researcher and Professor of Genetics at the University of Barcelona, shows that it is possible to use a newly-developed epigenetic test - called EPICUP®- to find out what type of primary tumor is responsible for the metastasis in the patient, which will allow doctors to develop more specific treatments against it.

"A few years ago, we became aware that the chemical patterns that regulate the activity of genes (the epigenome) are specific to each tissue. For example, they are different in a pancreatic cell compared to a lung cell" says Dr. Manel Esteller. "We have analyzed these particular epigenetic signatures for each type of cancer in more than 10,000 human tumors. When we now study the DNA of the metastasis of a patient with a tumor of unknown origin, the photograph of the epigenome that we get will tell us that it belongs to the family of pancreatic cancer, lung, colon, breast, etc. in other words, we will give a diagnosis of the origin of the tumor.

Identification of the type of cancer by epigenetic test will have a significant impact on the choice of treatment. "From now on, the patient will not be treated blindly, since we will be able to provide a much more specific therapy for this tumor type; actually, initial data shows that survival is doubled", explains Dr. Esteller, and he concludes on research in The Lancet Oncology: "Something very important to keep in mind is that this is not a discovery to be developed in the coming years; our collaboration with Ferrer laboratories made it possible for this test to be applied from this very moment."
-end-


IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.