A multi-institutional clinical research effort indicates liquid biopsy can detect changes in tumor profile and resistance to treatment. This follows growing evidence to support liquid biopsy as a valuable tool for monitoring treatment response in patients with cancer. Recently, a retrospective clinical study showing comparable results between liquid and tissue biopsy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) demonstrates the clinical utility of liquid biopsy for monitoring patients’ response to treatment. The study investigators will present their findings at the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) Joint Conference on Liquid Biopsies in Bergamo, Italy May 15-17.
The research team included:
- University Hospital Basel
- The University of Porto
- Hospital of Sao Joa
Investigators looked at the matched tissue and liquid biopsies from 159 NSCLC patients. Of the 94 patients who had concurrent next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis at diagnosis, 88% presented the same clinically relevant mutations in tissue and plasma samples.
While concordance was high when liquid biopsy was conducted immediately after the initial tissue biopsy, the researchers observed it dropped to 72% when plasma NGS analysis was performed at later states. The divergence, they believe, results from genetic drift caused by the development of new mutations during treatment.
Luca Quagliata, PhD, global head of medical affairs for Clinical NGS and oncology, Thermo Fisher Scientific noted “it can take several weeks to months to observe signs of relapse when you’re monitoring for disease progression using radiological scan. In contract, multiple studies have highlighted that liquid biopsy can identify genetic markers associated with resistance to treatment even before clinical signs manifest.” Hence Thermo Fisher Scientific thinks offering such a powerful tool for non-invasive “longitudinal cancer monitoring” could become a long term common option.
In addition, the researchers detected clinically relevant mutations – including EGFR, ALK and BRAF mutations – that were not present in the initial tissue biopsy in 29 of the plasma samples (equal to 45 percent of tested patients). Overall, they detected variants of known clinical impact in nine different target genes, supporting the value of broader molecular analysis through NGS to increase the detection of relevant mutations.
“Liquid biopsy testing can better recapitulate the heterogeneity of cancer and this is particularly relevant in patients with multiple metastatic localizations,” said Nicola Normanno, MD, director of cell biology and biotherapy at INT-Fondazione, Pascale, Naples who is not associated with the study. “We use liquid biopsy testing to monitor response to therapy in our daily clinical practice. By using this approach, we provide more personalized therapies to patients treated with targeted agents. This study is yet another valuable example highlighting the potential of using liquid biopsy in routine practice.”