MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Sunitha Nagrath, PhD
Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering
University of Michigan
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Lung cancer is leading cause of cancer-related mortality, and detecting it in earlier stages is crucial to improving outcomes for patients. The motivation for this study lies in understanding the phenotypic and genetic make-up of lung cancer during its early stages, using a blood sample (blood biopsy). We have done this by employing a microfluidic device to capture cancer cells circulating in the blood that is obtained from the peripheral veins and the pulmonary vein (a vein next to the tumor itself) from patients with early stage lung cancers. The idea behind using blood from the pulmonary vein was to obtain a richer yield of these circulating tumor cells, which are rare in the blood.
Through this study, we found that the pulmonary vein does yield a much higher quantity of circulating tumor cells, and also often harbors these cells in large clusters. We further went on to study the significance of these clusters, and found that these clusters indicated aggressive traits such as resistance to treatment, and could also potentially suggest poorer patient outcomes at long term.