UPO- Pilot clinical study on lung cancer

Milan, September 2018

The department of Thoracic Surgery at Ospedale Maggiore della Carità (University of Eastern Piedmont – UPO, Novara, Italy), led by Prof. Caterina Casadio, has obtained the Hospital Ethics Committee approval to carry out a pilot clinical study titled “Identification of CTCs in patients with NSCLC”, whose aim is to identify CTCs using Tethis SBS platform.

Lung cancer is the main cause of cancer mortality worldwide and the number of new cases is still rising. Survival rates mainly depend on the stage, going from about 80% for stage I to about 10% for stage IV. Unfortunately, lung cancer symptoms occur late in the disease, thus the majority of patients present with advanced disease at the time of diagnosis and they are not curable with currently available therapies.

Therefore, early detection might be paramount to diagnose the disease at a stage that give the patients the chance to be successfully cured.
So far, the only screening test that has proven to be sensitive in high risk population is low-dose computer tomography, but it cannot be implemented on a large scale since we lack solid data about the reduction in mortality rates and it is affected by a large number of false positive findings, potentially leading to overtreatment: other validated methods for early detection are strongly needed.

Recently, non-invasive approaches based on biomarkers have been proposed as very hopeful to achieve this goal and to gain information on acquired mutations involved in chemotherapy resistance. Among the most promising biomarkers are the circulating tumor cells (CTCs). This pilot study, a result of the cooperation between the UPO departments of Thoracic Surgery, Pathology and Tethis, has the aim to isolate CTCs in peripheral blood of early stage lung cancer patients, using SBS platform followed by molecular and immune studies in order to check the sensitivity and specificity of SBS CTC assay in identifying circulating tumor cells in stage I and II non-small cell lung cancer patients.