A Fluid Future - Why are there inconsistencies between different liquid biopsy tests – and how can the field evolve to maximize accuracy and impact?
Advances in disease profiling over recent years have opened new doors in the quest for early diagnosis and personalized treatment, with metastatic prostate cancer being a case in point. As the most widespread malignancy affecting men in the USA – 174,650 new cases and 31,620 deaths are predicted for 2019 – prostate cancer research is crucial. One such breakthrough is the use of liquid biopsy tests to detect circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in patients’ blood, offering a minimally invasive method of disease profiling.
The field is still young, but already there is a wide range of tests that all claim high performance. And that’s no surprise; the global liquid biopsy market is predicted to grow from US$310 million in 2016 to a staggering $1.2 billion by 2023. With respect to prostate cancer, fierce competition for an early foothold in the market has led to a flurry of commercially available liquid biopsy tests in the US, all with the same ambition: to improve diagnosis and management.
Metastatic prostate cancer is a highly heterogeneous malignancy associated with a wide range of potentially actionable mutations. The application of next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques to primary tumors has begun to identify potential biomarkers for prostate cancer detection and characterization. These targets include circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and ctDNA, which reveal unique and complementary information about the tumor.