20 August 2019

The AR-V7 liquid biopsy test

New blood test helps doctors choose the best treatments for men with advanced prostate cancer
Prostate Cancer | Real Stories | Where The Money Goes
3 MIN READ
 

A blood test which could prolong the lives of thousands of men in the United States with advanced prostate cancer has been developed by Movember-funded scientists.
 
The AR-V7 liquid biopsy test – which works by detecting the presence of a protein found on cancer cells - can predict whether or not a patient will respond to hormone-therapy drugs.
 
It means that patients who carry this protein don’t waste time taking treatments that would not work for them.
 
Results of the PROPHECY study, led by Dr Andrew J. Armstrong at Duke University, and funded by the Movember Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, has shown that drugs such as enzalutamide and abiraterone have little survival benefit to AR-V7 positive men with high-risk, advanced prostate cancer.
 
Following successful clinical trials, the AR-V7 test was developed by biotech company Epic Sciences and to date over 1,600 men in the US have taken the test, which is reimbursed by Medicare.
 
Dr Mark Buzza, Director of Biomedical Research at the Movember Foundation, says: “We are delighted to see that this test is now available to men in the US.
 
“On average, it takes 17 years to translate a laboratory discovery into a treatment that will impact lives – for it to reach patients within five years is almost unprecedented.
 
“The positive outcomes of the PROPHECY study means that a personalized medicine approach can now be undertaken for many men with advanced prostate cancer. The AR-V7 test provides a more accurate way of selecting and optimising treatment, based on a patient’s own genetic information.”
 
He added: “The AR-V7 test empowers men to make more informed decisions about their treatment. It will not only reduce unnecessary treatment side effects but will also improve men’s chances of survival.”

 
“The AR-V7 test empowers men to make more informed decisions about their treatment.”
 

Each year more than 174,000 men in the US are diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 31,000 die from the disease.
 
Men with advanced prostate cancer are often offered therapies such as enzalutamide or abiraterone where first-line treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy have failed.
 
However, as many as a fifth of men do not respond to these drugs and until recently doctors have not been able to determine which patients will respond prior to treatment.
 
One patient who has taken the test is Bryce Olson, now 49, from Portland, Oregon, who was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in 2014.
 
The father-of-one, who had surgery and six rounds of chemotherapy before his cancer returned in 2015, says that finding out that that he was AR-V7 negative gave him the confidence to try a second-line hormonal drug.
 
He says: “I have a very aggressive prostate cancer so I cannot waste time taking drugs that aren’t going to work for me. The test result empowered me to get onto Zytiga (abiraterone) and prednisone as a treatment plan. I’m happy to say that I’m four plus months of having a declining PSA and I feel great.”

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