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TJU-Led Team Wins $2.7 Million NCI Grant



The team will study circulating tumor cells in breast cancer

Thomas Jefferson University researchers have received a five-year, $2.7 million National Cancer Institute grant to study single circulating tumor cells (CTCs) as they pertain to metastatic breast cancer patients. CTCs are tumor cells that have spread in blood and/or lymphatic vessels from solid tumors, and represent the first step in the process leading to the formation of metastases. The study could help advance the use of CTCs for personalized cancer therapies in the future.

Principal investigator Hushan Yang, PhD, and his team will use the grant to analyze CTCs collected from 300 metastatic breast cancer patients and 200 nonmetastatic breast cancer patients within the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Network.

Yang and his colleagues have developed a new approach for single CTC analysis that includes a system for detecting, enriching, enumerating, and isolating CTCs, then putting them through a novel amplification and next-generation sequencing process.

Yang believes this trial represents the first population study of single CTC, next-generation sequencing analysis in metastatic breast cancer patients. His collaborators in the study include Bingshan Li, PhD, Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, and Massimo Cristofanilli, PhD, Northwestern University.

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