American Association for Cancer Research

Noninvasive Molecular Profiling of Cancer via Tumor-Derived Microparticles


The great promise of personalized medicine is the potential to tailor treatments to a patient's individual tumor while sparing the healthy tissue. This requires obtaining the molecular profile of the tumor to identify the changes or abnormalities that have occurred. Currently, the only way to do this is by biopsy of the tumor itself. This is often not practical, due to the location or size of metastatic tumor masses, for example, that makes them difficult and/or dangerous to routinely biopsy. Tewari's work will develop a new approach to profiling tumors by capturing and examining "microparticles," tiny genetic material-containing packets that are emitted by cells in the tumor tissue and circulate in the blood. If successful, this would provide a convenient, safe and reliable means of obtaining molecular profiles of tumors. Capturing and profiling tumor microparticles could facilitate the use of personalized therapeutics by providing data about molecular changes occurring during the disease course following initial surgical therapy and in response to treatment.


Muneesh Tewari, M.D., Ph.D., assistant member in the Divisions of Human Biology, Clinical Research and Public Health Sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the School of Medicine, University of Washington

Watch an interview with Dr. Tewari:

Updated: Apr. 6, 2010