Multicenter Study Shows Mass Cytometry-Based Blood Analysis as a Promising Tool for Early Solid Tumor Detection - medtigo



Multicenter Study Shows Mass Cytometry-Based Blood Analysis as a Promising Tool for Early Solid Tumor Detection

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Early detection of solid tumors remains a major medical challenge, and there is a need for approaches with high sensitivity and specificity to detect them. Mass cytometry time-of-flight (CyTOF) is a powerful technique for profiling immune cells, which could potentially be applied to tumor detection.

In a recent study, researchers attempted to establish diagnostic models for two types of solid tumors: hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The study published in the Gut involved CyTOF analysis of peripheral blood from 2348 participants from 15 centers, including healthy volunteers, participants with hepatic diseases, and those with pancreatic diseases.

The researchers constructed diagnostic models using a random forest algorithm and validated them in subgroups. The PBIScore performed well in detecting HCC and PDAC, with sensitivity and specificity being around 80% in the validation cohorts.

Researchers have highlighted the need for novel tools for the early-stage detection of malignant tumors, such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), due to the insidious onset of these types of cancers leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Routine serological tests used in the clinic are limited by their low sensitivity or specificity, and novel screening methods are urgently needed.  

One emerging technique is liquid biopsy, mainly detecting circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), cell-free RNAs, circulating tumor cells, and exosomes. While these strategies have shown potential in detecting HCC, no well-accepted liquid biopsy strategies for tumor detection exist. Recent developments in immunotherapy have changed the decision-making of cancer treatment, and the rapid development of immunotherapy has deepened our understanding of the relationship between cancer and the immune system.

The study of tumor-induced systemic dysfunction of the immune microenvironment using mouse models, for example, has revealed the potential to restore immune function through tumour resection. Moreover, the number and status of immune cells change dynamically during tumor progression, with the occurrence and development of tumors often accompanied by systemic immune disturbance and alternations of peripheral immune cells.  

To test the value of peripheral blood immune cells in tumor detection, a large-volume, multicentre study has been launched using mass cytometry by time-of-flight (CyTOF), a newly developed technology that can profile the composition and number of immune cells.

The study aims to establish diagnostic models for HCC and PDAC using CyTOF and to understand the logic underlying the models for better clinical application. Hopefully, immune profiling of the circulation using CyTOF may improve the early-stage detection of these malignant tumors.  


CyTOF analysis on human peripheral blood has shown promise in detecting early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The study used high-dimensional profiling to discover differences in immune cell populations in peripheral blood. Subsequently, it used selected parameters to generate tumor detection models with high sensitivity and specificity.

The study found that hints of tumors in peripheral blood might exist soon after tumor initiation, supporting the concept of analyzing systemic immunity for early tumor detection. Key cell subsets responsible for the efficacy of the models, such as naïve CD4+ T cells, naïve CD8+ T cells, and CD39+ monocytes.  


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