Researchers at FAU Erlangen are looking for tiny tumor signs in the blood to detect cancer earlier

Demonstrating tumor DNA in the blood, to determine earlier than before that cancer develops – PD Dr. Weber and his team want to pave the way for it with a new approach.

If a tumor is already so large that it can be detected in imaging procedures, healing particularly aggressive cancers such as pancreatic cancer is hardly possible. “Early detection” is therefore the louder getting mantra of oncology. Demonstrating earlier that cancer is emerging could save many patients’ lives in the future. One method that should make this possible is the so-called liquid biopsy. This role in cancer screening is examined by PD Dr. med. Weber as project coordinator of a new research group.

The Senior Physician of the Surgical Clinic and Director of the University Hospital Erlangen Prof. Dr. Robert Grützmann wants to identify tumor markers, so that the slightest harbingers of a cancer, in the blood can be safely detect. But until that happens, the researchers first have to figure out what they are looking for.

The large blood count – it provides information about cholesterol, liver enzymes or blood sugar. Inflammation levels can also be detected in the blood or infections such as the HI virus. And soon cancer too? About “Liquid biopsy” can be read these days in the newspapers. Breast cancer should soon be detected in an earlier stage by a simple blood testing. PD Dr. Weber researches also on liquid biopsies, but on the example of gastrointestinal tumors. He and Prof. Grützmann see the current headlines critically: “In cancer research, the scientific competition is great. It should not be forgotten that new results, understandably, give many patients hope. Premature promises quickly lead to disappointment, “says the clinic director.” In fact, it will take many years before cancer is safely detected in the blood.”

Read more on the website of FAU Erlangen here (German only).

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