Non-invasive ctDNA analysis

Liquid biopsy describes the process of extracting a small blood sample from a patient, and screening this for genetic markers that indicate the presence of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). With the development of increasingly sensitive sequencing and analysis techniques, researchers are now able to identify tiny fragments of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA).

The ctDNA shed from cancerous tumors contains genetic information that can help stratify patients, monitor treatment progress, and identify emerging resistance.

Circulating Tumor DNA

Diagram representing the release of ctDNA into the bloodstream by a tumor. ctDNA can be distinguished from other cell-free DNA of non-cancerous origin by the presence of cancer-specific mutations.

Liquid biopsies are able to isolate the tiny amounts of ctDNA released by the tumor from the background cfDNA, by identifying hallmark genetic mutations.

Inivata is developing some of the most sensitive techniques available to isolate this ctDNA and identify a broad range of disease-specific mutations.

Obtaining a sample

Blood samples can be drawn from a patient before, during, and/or after cancer treatment, or at regular intervals. Liquid biopsy has the potential for continual monitoring, which is a major advantage in cancer care.

Once collected, the blood sample is centrifuged to separate the plasma containing the cell-free DNA from other components. The DNA is then extracted, amplified, and then analyzed for mutations.

Being able to analyze the liquid biopsy for multiple mutations simultaneously allows the clinician to better understand the tumor profile and adapt treatment appropriately.

Why is this needed

Cancer can behave in an unpredictable way, metastasizing and evolving throughout a patient’s treatment. Existing sampling tools for monitoring cancer have a number of drawbacks

Delays to treatment
Tumor biopsy is only possible if you know where the cancer is, and if you are able to isolate the tissue and take a sample. In many cases this isn’t possible, residual disease can be hard to detect, and tumors are often in hard-to-reach locations.
Limited Monitoring
Taking a tumor biopsy from a patient is an invasive, difficult, and expensive process, and as such frequent solid biopsy testing is not practical. It is impossible to profile tumors in real-time and obtain a realistic picture of how the tumor is evolving.
Static Measurements
Tumors can metastasize and spread throughout the body, evolving and become heterogeneous. A tumor biopsy offers a static measurement from a single point in time, which is unable to capture the full profile of the metastasized cancers.