The forecast that, in the next ten years, at least 50,000 people with colon cancer will be exempt from chemotherapy. On one condition: that the so-called liquid biopsy keeps its promises, as he would like to prove lo Pegasus study, financed by the Airc Foundation for cancer research.

Hunt for DNA fragments in the blood

But before going into the details of the study, some clarifications are appropriate. In the meantime. Colon cancer is the second most common in women and the third in men: it is estimated that, every year, there are 43,700 people affected in Italy (source Airc). At least 80 percent are operated on and the first question patients ask the surgeon: Am I cured? Today, the answer is not certain and, usually, patients undergo so-called adjuvant chemotherapy, because micrometastases are supposed to exist, invisible metastases, scattered in various organs. However, not all patients need this chemotherapy treatment, because many are actually healed. Here then comes the liquid biopsy, whose father, in Italy, Alberto Bardelli, director of Molecular Oncology at the Candiolo Irccs Institute (Turin) and professor at the University. With liquid biopsy they are sought in the blood (which is obtained with a simple withdrawal ed) fragments of DNA which are compared with the patient’s DNA: thus it is possible to identify those “foreign” fragments, that is, referable to the tumor – specifies Bardelli -. Blood captures information from various tissues it is more precise and universal than the classic biopsy which, on the other hand, analyzes single tissues and cannot be performed in all organs, which may be the target of micrometastases.


Personalized medicine

The Pegasus study, therefore, aims to free the patient from chemo. promoted by Silvia Marsoni of the Ifom of Milan, has as scientific coordinator Sara Lonardi of the Veneto Oncology Institute, Irccs of Padua and involves eight centers of which 5 in Italy (including the Niguarda hospital and the Tumor Institute of Milan) and three in Spain: an online and independent research. Which, unfortunately, has experienced a setback for Covid, but that is moving forward. The study responds to personalized medicine concept – says Sara Lonardi -. Allow us to understand which patients are most at risk of relapse (because they have more micrometastases and therefore more abnormal DNA in the blood ed). These are patients who will be treated with more aggressive chemotherapy than those who, on the other hand, can access a “light” treatment, less heavy, or even avoid chemo.

March 31, 2021 (change March 31, 2021 | 08:57)

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