What is Liquid Biopsy?
Liquid biopsy is a non-invasive diagnostics’ procedure for profiling cancers. The technique aims to detect for cancer DNA in the blood sample of the patient. This further helps to sketch a roadmap for the treatment plan for the patient.
In the past, tumour biopsies have challenged both patients and doctors. Patients complained of inconvenience and discomfort while undergoing tissue biopsies.
Is it Beneficial?
- The technique has been a success for obtaining biopsies for diseases such as lung cancer (non-small cell lung cancer). As in case of non-small cell lung cancer, obtaining a tissue biopsy is a challenge due to condition of the patient and location of the tumour. It is challenging to obtain a section of the tissue for the biomarker testing.
- Cost: liquid biopsies are a simple blood draw. Compared to the tissue biopsies, it is cheaper. The reason for this is quite understandable. The former involves drawing of blood whereas in the latter, tissue resection needs to be performed.
- Liquid Biopsy serves as a continuous and progressive way to check the status of the cancer whereas tissue biopsy is performed only at the very beginning of the treatment regime. A tissue biopsy only checks for the presence of cancer and does not provide any additional insights.
- It also provides insights around whether the patient would showcase some sort of resistance for the treatment even before the clinical symptoms show up.
Is it Reliable?
Broadly speaking, yes it is reliable. The liquid biopsy technique has gained traction and acceptance. However, it may be too early to comment whether it can stand by itself and compete at par with the gold standard “tissue biopsy”.
Are There Any Applications Related To It?
Blood being the sample for liquid biopsies, there are several different applications. Some of these could be:
- Patients can be stratified for therapy selection using companion diagnostics
- Monitoring the treatment response
- To further use the data to understand the progression and response of the disease. The circulating tumour cells (CTCs) obtained from the blood sample can be used for testing DNA abnormalities, mutations and protein/ RNA expression.
Therefore, liquid biopsy effectively complements and provides an improved well informed conclusion from cancer patients’ blood sample. We see liquid biopsy market climbing the uphill trajectory and therefore it is expected to be game changer in the field of diagnostics.
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Photo Credits: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/607944/grails-1-billion-bet-on-the-perfect-cancer-test/