February 14, 2019 -- A blood test revealed that circulating DNA levels correlated with lung tumor size on micro-CT scans of mice, indicating the blood test's potential in the early detection of lung cancer, according to an article published online on 12 February in Disease Models & Mechanisms.
The researchers from the U.K. acquired, at several different time points, micro-CT scans of mice that had precancerous lung tumors because of a mutation in the KRAS gene. They collected blood samples at the same time intervals to track the levels of total circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in the mice.
The mice who developed lung cancer had notably higher levels of cfDNA and ctDNA than healthy mice did, the researchers found. Furthermore, the amount of circulating DNA in the blood directly correlated with the size of tumors measured on the micro-CT scans.
"This observation is exciting because it suggests that tumor-causing mutations may be detectable in circulating DNA from patients with early-stage cancers or with precancerous tumors," senior author Miguel Martins, PhD, from the University of Cambridge Medical Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit said in a statement from the university.
"Developing early detection strategies to improve survival rates is key, and if this can be achieved using only a blood sample it would greatly benefit patients," said Mariana Delfino-Machín, PhD, program director of the MRC.