Improving personalized healthcare in oncology
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, scientists are now able to detect tiny fragments of ctDNA in amongst large amounts of cell free DNA (cfDNA) from normal cells.
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. This release typically occurs as tumor cells die.
Liquid biopsies are able to detect the tiny amounts of ctDNA released by the tumor from the background cfDNA, by identifying hallmark genetic mutations.
Inivata has developed some of the most sensitive techniques available to detect 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 This is Needed
Cancer can behave in an unpredictable way, metastasizing and evolving throughout a patient’s treatment. Existing sampling tools for stratifying patients to treatment and 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.
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.
Tumors can metastasize and spread throughout the body, evolving and becoming 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.