Liquid biopsy to advance cancer diagnosis and detection


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Australia (Commonwealth Union) – The rates of cancer have been increasing in recent years, so has the increase in research into more effective ways to diagnose and treat cancer. Researchers at The University of New South Wales (UNSW), are producing a safer, less invasive method to biopsy tumors.

The stress of being diagnosed with a tumor can result in further stress with painful diagnostic procedures that can at times be risky, depending on the location of the body. This makes a liquid biopsy a far more suitable option, the procedure which the UNSW are researching.

Cancer researcher Dr John Lock, of the UNSW Medicine & Health and the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, stated that being in a rural area and requiring a biopsy will require the patient to travel to a major center as they essentially have an invasive procedure.

Researchers indicate that getting information regarding the tumor by a blood test is what a liquid biopsy will be. Presently, clinicians have increasingly tailor-made treatments specific to the type of cancer which requires knowledge on the biomolecular make-up of the cancer to personalize the treatment. The liquid biopsy is carried out with blood and other bodily fluids. Cancers release components like genetic material and tumor cells into the blood stream, referred to as circulating tumor DNA and circulating tumor cells.

“The liquid biopsy is a surrogate to a solid tissue biopsy,” explained Associate Professor Therese Becker, leading the liquid biopsy research at the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research and UNSW South West Sydney Clinical Campus. “It provides information to better guide clinical treatment of patients.”

Taking liquid biopsies into everyday use is the aim of researchers. “Liquid biopsy is getting more and more embedded in clinical practice overseas, but Australia is still behind,” A/Prof. Becker noted. She further added that next few years will be essential to take liquid biopsies from bench to bedside in Australia.


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