Circulating tumor DNA – Current state of play and future perspectives

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Pharmacological Research, 2018, 136 pp. 35 - 44
Issue Date:
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Cancer management paradigms are shifting towards a personalized approach thanks to the advent of the -omics technologies. Liquid biopsies, consisting in the sampling of blood and other bodily fluids, are emerging as a valid alternative to circulating tumor biomarkers and tumor tissue biopsies for cancer diagnosis, routine monitoring and prognostication. The content of a liquid biopsy is referred to as the “tumor circulome”. Among its components, circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), including both cell-free and exosome-associated DNA, is the most widely characterized element. ctDNA analysis has a tremendous capability in the diagnostic arena. Its potential has been demonstrated at each level of disease staging and management and supported by a recent FDA approval for companion diagnostic, and the investments being made by pharmaceutical companies in this sector are numerous. The approaches available for ctDNA analysis allow both quantitative and qualitative studies and range from PCR and dPCR-mediated single/multiple gene mutational assessment to whole genome next generation sequencing and methylation mapping. Although the principal object of a liquid biopsy is blood, other body fluids such as urine and saliva show potential as complementary DNA sources for tumor analysis. In this review we provide a synopsis on the state of play of current ctDNA application. We discuss the clinical significance of ctDNA analysis and review the state of the art of technologies being currently developed to this aim. We also discuss the current issues limiting ctDNA application and highlight the promising approaches being developed to overcome these.
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