November 9, 2015

Looking deep inside platelets – the blood component that plays a major role in clotting – may help doctors diagnose cancer, find tumors and plot treatments, according to new research.

A team from The Netherlands found that examining the RNA of platelets can help identify six types of cancer, determine where the primary tumor is located and identify tumors with mutations, which can help in decision-making about therapies.

Previous studies have shown that in addition to their role in clotting, platelets take up protein and RNA molecules from tumors. Using that knowledge, the Dutch team isolated platelets from 55 healthy donors, 39 individual with early-stage cancer and 189 patients with advanced, metastatic cancer.

Patient participants had either non-small-cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer, glioblastoma, pancreatic cancer, hepatobiliary cancer or breast cancer.