Liquid biopsy involves testing of the blood to identify biomarkers or cancer cells in the form of cells or pieces of DNA which are separated from the tumor and are circulating in the blood. Liquid biopsy helps in early detection of cancer, which would aid in adopting an optimal treatment plan. It is a non-invasive technique, which makes frequent testing possible, and effectiveness of cancer treatment can also be validated using it. The procedure requires only a small amount of blood sample of around 5 milliliters and the procedure is quicker, which is easily tolerated by the patients, making it a viable alternative for conventional biopsy techniques such as tissue biopsy. Liquid biopsy makes use of blood tests to identify presence of certain tumor cells such as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), circulating tumor cells (CTCs), and exosomes. Some of the commercially available liquid biopsy tests for cancer are Cologurad, Guardant360, Oncotype SEQ Liquid Select, and Target Selector liquid biopsy assays. However, in December 2017, two Johns Hopkins prostate cancer researchers found differences in the results from two different liquid biopsy providers and such inconsistencies in results may hinder the growth of the market.
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Rising applications of liquid biopsy owing to its advantages over conventional biopsy is expected to boost growth of the liquid biopsy market
Liquid biopsy allows for efficient disease management as well as non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). Non–invasive prenatal testing enables diagnosis of potential risks of developing chromosomal abnormalities such as Edwards’s syndrome, Down syndrome, and X and Y chromosome abnormalities. It offers advantages such as frequent use with less risks as the sample is taken from blood only, offering complete genetic profile of the patient by providing DNA for more than one tumor; highly non-invasive technique; no biases in results, due to heterogeneity of the tumor tissues; requirement of small amount of sample; and cost and time effectiveness wherein, liquid biopsy addresses all these issues associated with conventional tissue biopsy. Furthermore, applications of liquid biopsy for diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), breast cancer, coronary heart disease, prostate cancer, etc. is increasing. For instance, according to a new study published in Oncology Journal, January 2018, the liquid biopsy combo involving exosomal RNA and cell-free DNA (cfDNA) improved the sensitivity of epidermal growth factor mutations in NSCLC. Furthermore, OncoCyte Corporation presented positive data from its breast cancer diagnostic test study, in December 2017, at San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
The global liquid biopsy market was valued at US$ 1,824.7 million in 2016 and is expected to witness a robust CAGR of 18.3% over the forecast period (2017–2025).
Established as well as small players in the liquid biopsy market are actively focusing on research and development of methods in liquid biopsy through collaborations. For instance, Biodesix—a U.S.-based company—developed a novel way of extract circulating RNA from plasma in November 2017, in collaboration with Norgen Biotek. Moreover, Precipio—a U.S.-based organization, entered into merger agreement with Transgenomic, in 2017, for commercializing ICE COLD PCR (ICP) for liquid biopsies, which preferentially enriches mutant DNA sequences over wild-type DNA through selective amplification. HaploX Biotechnology—a China-based company—raised US$ 32 Mn in financing, in January 2018, in order to integrate liquid biopsy technology, artificial intelligence, and gene sequencing.
Furthermore, in May 2017, Guardant Health, Inc. raised US$ 360 million to create cancer blood tests to deploy its test for 1 million people over the next five years. Guardant Health and MD Anderson Cancer Center launched liquid biopsy partnership, in February 2017, under which Guardant is expected to help MD Anderson to build multiple on-site liquid biopsy centers. Guardant Health announced broad, long term alliance with Pfizer Oncology to support multiple clinical programs with its Guardant360 assay, in June 2017. Moreover, Guardant Health announced that it entered into separate agreements with AstraZeneca, Merck, Merck KGaA, and Darmstadt in January 2017 to develop 500 plus gene liquid biopsy panel to speed up clinical trials and drug development. Natera collaborated with Baylor Genetics to develop a non-invasive prenatal test, Vistara, in May 2017, which aided in detecting de novo mutations in single gene disorders.
Some major players operating in the liquid biopsy market include Illumina, Inc., Roche AG, Natera, Inc., Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp), Qiagen N.V., Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., Exact Sciences Corp., Biocept, Inc., Genomic Health, Inc., Guardant Health, TrovaGene Inc., CareDx Inc., Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation, and Biocartis SA.
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