Gillian Vandekerkhove

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This week we profile a recent publication in European Urology from Gillian Vandekerkhove
(pictured) in the laboratory of Dr. Alexander Wyatt at the Vancouver Prostate Centre.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

Our research focus is the genomics of advanced prostate and bladder cancer. Utilizing a combination of standard tissue biopsies and blood-based liquid biopsies, we apply next-generation DNA sequencing techniques to characterize patient tumours. Ultimately, our goal is to enable precision medicine approaches in the clinic.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

We found that in men with prostate cancer who are metastatic at diagnosis, a blood test can detect tumour DNA shed into their bloodstream. This blood test provides complementary information to a prostate needle biopsy regarding the patient’s tumour. However, we also found that the test is not nearly as informative if the patient receives treatment before blood collection.

What are the next steps for this research?

We are continually expanding our liquid biopsy program for patients with advanced genitourinary cancers. For men with advanced prostate cancer, blood-based liquid biopsies need to be incorporated in future clinical trials. Finally, through international collaborations we plan to assess greater patient numbers.

This research was funded by:

I hold a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Doctoral Award. The study was supported by CIHR, Terry Fox Foundation, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Prostate Cancer Canada, Academy of Finland, and Business Finland.

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