Molecular Characterization of Circulating Tumor Cells Isolated from the Peripheral Blood of Prostate Cancer Patients
Due to the high prevalence and morbidity associated with prostate cancer, and the absence of a reliable and effective screening tool, we have sought to evaluate the potential role of telomere profiles and circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in filling this void. CTCs can be isolated from the blood of patients and used to profile the molecular characteristics of the primary tumor they derive from. Utilizing a quantitative fluorescence in-situ hybridization (Q-FISH) protocol and our Teloview(TM) program, we can analyze the telomeres contained within these cells. It has been proven that increasing telomere dysfunction can be correlated with increasing aggressiveness in various cancers. In this study we were able to successfully isolate CTCs from all prostate cancer patients enrolled in our study irrespective of disease stage. We were also able to produce a unique telomere profile for each patient. When repeat analysis of telomere profiles was done, we demonstrated that some patients had stable profiles, some had minor changes, and some had substantial changes. We have linked these changes to the clinical interventions used to manage the patient’s disease. Using a statistical analysis system we categorized individual telomeres as low, medium or high intensity, and measured the peak telomere number (PTN) for each patient. Combining this information has allowed us to create a model to stratify patients based on their risk of disease progression. In the future this system may replace conventional screening, and prognostication methods, and aid in the development of a more personalized approach to treating prostate cancer.