Liquid biopsy of cancer: a multimodal diagnostic tool in clinical oncology

Over the last decades, the concept of precision medicine has dramatically renewed the field of medical oncology; the introduction of patient-tailored therapies has significantly improved all measurable outcomes. Liquid biopsy is a revolutionary technique that is opening previously unexpected perspectives. It consists of the detection and isolation of circulating tumor cells, circulating tumor DNA and exosomes, as a source of genomic and proteomic information in patients with cancer. Many technical hurdles have been resolved thanks to newly developed techniques and next-generation sequencing analyses, allowing a broad application of liquid biopsy in a wide range of settings. Initially correlated to prognosis, liquid biopsy data are now being studied for cancer diagnosis, hopefully including screenings, and most importantly for the prediction of response or resistance to given treatments. In particular, the identification of specific mutations in target genes can aid in therapeutic decisions, both in the appropriateness of treatment and in the advanced identification of secondary resistance, aiming to early diagnose disease progression. Still application is far from reality but ongoing research is leading the way to a new era in oncology. Researchers from the University of Bari Aldo Moro summarize the main techniques and applications of liquid biopsy in cancer.


Molecular applications of circulating tumor cells (CTCs), circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and exosomes as liquid biopsy for personalized medicine.

Palmirotta R, Lovero D, Cafforio P, Felici C, Mannavola F, Pellè E, Quaresmini D, Tucci M, Silvestris F. (2018) Liquid biopsy of cancer: a multimodal diagnostic tool in clinical oncology. Ther Adv Med Oncol [Epub ahead pf print]. [article]

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