The first results of the TRACERx study show the effectiveness of liquid biopsy in lung cancer monitoring. The researchers used a principle related to non-invasive prenatal diagnosis: DNA analysis of floating cells in the blood. In the case of prenatal screening fetal cells in maternal blood are analyzed. In the liquid biopsy, however, tumor cells are analyzed in the patient's blood.
As a tumor develops, it is released into the cellular fragments that end up in the bloodstream. By analyzing them, it is possible to monitor the evolution of the tumor and its origin, starting with a blood sampling. The operation is called liquid biopsy and avoids the well-invasive traditional biopsies. Normally, in fact, it is necessary to intervene surgically to extract a fragment of tissue to be analyzed.
TRACERx involved 100 patients with lung cancer and were undergoing treatment. The researchers followed the evolution of the tumor, both by traditional methods and by liquid biopsy. They have thus compared the genetic changes detected in tumor cells and those taken from the blood.
Sequencing of DNA from liquid biopsy has shown that it is possible to diagnose the tumor in the early stages. It has also allowed identifying identifiable traits in circular cancer cells. All this proves that liquid biopsy can simplify cancer diagnosis and monitoring procedures.