Clinical OMICS

MAR-APR 2017

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 27 of 47

26 Clinical OMICs March/April 2017 I t is likely one of the longest periods of foreshadowing in science . In 1869, Aus- tralian physician Thomas R. Ashworth first observed circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in one of his patients and suggested the treasure trove of information they might contain . "Cells identical with those of the cancer itself being seen in the blood may tend to throw some light upon the mode of origin of multiple tumours existing in the same person," he surmised in his research paper "A case of cancer in which cells similar to those in the tumours were seen in the blood after death" published in the Australian Medical Journal. For more than a hundred years, the promise of using circulating tumor cells as a key to help unlock the secrets of cancer and, more importantly, metastatic cancer, remained a tantalizing possibility . It wasn't until the 1990s that technology was finally created that could capture CTCs in the blood, and later, CellSearch became the first FDA-approved diagnostic device, which separated and enumer- ated CTCs to be used as a prognostics tool to predict survival of patients with prostate, colorectal, and breast cancers . Since then, novel methods for capturing CTCs, and the vastly improved tech- nology for genomic sequencing of not only the DNA of CTCs, but also of circulat- ing tumor DNA (ctDNA), have accelerated both the technological development of liquid biopsies and their adoption as a diagnostic tool in the clinic . This elevation from technology with prom- ise, to one that is playing a vital role in the fast diagnosis of metastatic cancer has occurred with lightning speed . According to David Brunel, CEO of blood- based diagnostic company Biodesix, as recently as five years ago the tools for a liquid biopsy were not yet robust enough for prime time, and while intriguing, were also very costly . "At the time, we were just entering the heyday of targeted therapies, where the measurement of an action- able mutation would have a targeted drug . Since all that work was done in tissue, there was skepticism about liquid biopsy," he said. The Future Is Fluid Liquid Biopsy Has Proven Its Mettle in the Fight against NSCLC and May Soon Also Be Standard of Care in Other Cancers Chris Anderson Editor in Chief "With liquid biopsies, that critical inflection point was getting to a level of performance tantamount to the tissue counterparts." —Helmy Eltoukhy, Ph.D., CEO, Guardant Health

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