AR-V7 blood test can predict optimal treatment for advanced prostate cancer, study finds

An international collaborative study is one of the first to demonstrate that a blood test can predict how patients with advanced prostate cancer will respond to specific treatments, leading to improved survival.

Dr. Alison Allan, scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute.
Dr. Alison Allan PhD, scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute, Canada.

The study used a liquid biopsy test developed by molecular diagnostics company Epic Sciences that examines circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in blood samples from patients with advanced prostate cancer who are deciding whether to switch from hormone-targeting therapy to chemotherapy. CTCs are cancer cells that leave a tumor, enter the blood stream and invade other parts of the body, causing the spread of cancer.

The test identifies whether or not a patient’s CTCs contain a protein called AR-V7 in the cell’s nucleus. The researchers set out to determine whether the presence of this protein predicted which treatment would best prolong a patient’s life.

They found that patients who tested positive for AR-V7 responded best to taxane-based chemotherapy while those who tested negative for the protein responded best to hormone-targeting therapy with drugs called androgen-receptor signaling (ARS) inhibitors. These are the two most widely used drug classes to treat advanced prostate cancer.

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