Liquid biopsies in personalised medicine: future and pitfalls
Historically, the analysis of tumour tissue has been the primary mean through which cancers have been diagnosed, characterised, and subclassified. Nevertheless, the increasing importance of personalised cancer medicine is creating a heightened need for sufficient and recent high-quality diagnostic material, which often must be obtained through surgical biopsy procedures. Given the associated costs, risks, and logistical hurdles, recent technological advancements in the use and analysis of liquid biopsies present an attractive opportunity for minimally invasive genomic diagnostics and tumour monitoring. In this whitepaper, the potential applications of liquid biopsies in personalised medicine and its current pitfalls are described.
Liquid biopsies offer a wide range of potential clinical applications that could benefit patients’ health and provide important advantages over tissue biopsies, including minimal invasiveness. Which analyte will play the most important role, remains to be determined, although the current increase in commercially developed ctDNA panels gives a strong edge to the implementation of ctDNA analysis. Nevertheless, an approach where different analytes would complement each other could also be envisioned. Overall, whilst some challenges are still lying ahead, the implementation of liquid biopsies in a clinical setting could go hand in hand with a further adaptation of personalised therapy.