Dr Sahin on the Utility of the Northstar Response Assay in GI Cancer

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Ilyas Sahin, MD, discusses the potential utility of Northstar Response assay in patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer.

Ilyas Sahin, MD, assistant professor, medicine, Division of Hematology & Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, University of Florida Health, discusses the potential utility of Northstar Response, a novel blood test designed to quantify circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in patients with advanced gastrointestinal (GI) cancer currently receiving treatment for their disease.

NorthStar Response is a methylated ctDNA therapy monitoring assay, which could be a valuable tool for oncologists, especially in cases where patient safety is a concern due to treatment toxicity. This tool offers timely insights, potentially reducing wait times for accurate imaging results, and is particularly relevant for patients with mixed treatment responses or challenges regarding disease staging and imaging. In an ongoing study, investigators are examining treatment responses in patients with advanced GI cancer, Sahin begins. The primary objective of this investigation is to ascertain the efficacy of using the Northstar Response assay to accurately assess treatment outcomes. The study protocol involves conducting imaging assessments approximately 2 to 3 months after treatment initiation, he reports.

Moreover, Sahin foresees potential applications of the NorthStar Response tests in future studies, particularly in scenarios involving early-stage cancer post-surgery. In such cases, this test could serve as a tool in guiding decisions regarding additional chemotherapy or in promptly identifying cancer recurrences, he notes. Should these initial findings prove encouraging, subsequent studies will delve deeper into refining the understanding and use of this test, Sahin explains. This initial analysis is evaluating the accuracy of Northstar Response across diverse cancer types, with an emphasis on observing discernible trends, he adds.

Preliminary findings have shown a promising trend of decreased methylation scores in patients who experience partial or complete responses to their therapies, Sahin continues. However, one significant obstacle lies in the inherent heterogeneity of the patient population, encompassing various cancer types and treatment modalities. For instance, although patients with colorectal cancer may present with the highest methylation scores, those receiving immunotherapy for biliary tract cancer tend to exhibit the lowest scores, he adds.

Despite these challenges, investigators remain committed to refining this test, according to Sahin. Sahin and colleagues aim to enhance the overall accuracy and reliability of the Northstar Response assay.

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