maintrac®– diagnostics – prior to, during, and after cancer therapy
What is maintrac?
maintrac is a blood test that allows us to detect cells, which have left the tumor and entered the bloodstream.
Some of these so-called circulating (epithelial) tumor cells (CETCs / CTCs) may be responsible for metastases (metastatic spread) occurring, and thus responsible for further progression of the disease.
Why should I do it?
Using the maintrac cell count, the extent to which a treatment is proving successful can be monitored. For this assessment, the number of circulating cells is determined before therapy start, and this is compared with the number of cells over the course of therapy. The resulting progression of results gives an indication of whether cells are being destroyed by the cancer therapy, i.e. whether the patient is responding to the treatment. Should this not be the case, there is the possibility of testing other substances directly on the circulating tumor cells.
Some substances are only effective in the treatment of cancer if the tumor exhibits certain properties. maintrac can determine whether these therapy-relevant properties are exhibited in the tumor cells.
Only 15 ml of EDTA blood needs to be taken from the patient by the treating physician, or in the specialized medical laboratory Dr. Pachmann, and this is subsequently analyzed in the diagnostic laboratory.
maintrac helps each individual patient to find a unique, personalized and effective therapy, and allows for the success of the therapy to be monitored.
The maintrac® diagnostics
The advantages of maintrac are:
- monitoring of therapy,
- testing of medicines in advance,
- determination of therapy-relevant properties and
- early detection of new tumor activity.
maintrac can be employed in the case of almost all solid tumors.
Treatment success can be monitored both before therapy start and over the course of therapy with maintrac diagnostics. maintrac may also find application in metastatic situations, during hormone and maintenance therapiesand watch-and-wait approaches (e.g. in cases of prostate cancer or DCIS-type breast cancer).
The significance of maintrac diagnostics has already been proven in 15 studies involving over 940 patients. These publications, as well as many others on the topic of circulating tumor cells can be found on the Publications page.
Methodology of the maintrac analysis
Due to the high sensitivity of the techniques involved, CETCs / CTCs can be detected shortly after diagnosis of a primary tumor, and as such a therapy decision can be made in good time. This early detection relies mainly on the fact that maintrac is highly-sensitive because the cells from the blood sample are analyzed in real-time, contrasting with other methods where cells tend to be fixed, isolated or enriched. This allows for a quantitative determination of CETCs / CTCs even in the early stages of disease, and not only once a metastatic stage has been reached.
- In addition to circulating epithelial cells, white blood cells (leukocytes) are also found in blood. After lysis of the erythrocytes (disintegration of the red blood cells), the blood is tested for the presence of epithelial cells. On the surface of epithelial cells, a cell-surface protein (EpCAM) can be found, which is marked in the maintrac process using a fluorescent antibody.
- At the same time, propidium iodide is added, which can penetrate through the cell membrane of dead cells, allowing for dead (red/green stained) and living (green stained) cells to be distinguished from one another.
- Using a fluorescence microscope, the marked cells can now automatically be identified and counted.
- If the maintrac diagnostic process is employed several times at defined time intervals, results can give a reflection of therapy success and tumor activity over the course of patient progress.