About this Research Topic
With the explosion in knowledge about how genetic abnormalities in cancer change over time and the corresponding rise in drugs that target them, comes a big challenge. How can the abnormalities be monitored during the course of the disease, so that the right treatments can be started or interrupted at the right time? And can abnormalities be detected even before symptoms of primary disease are evident, in patients that present with advanced tumours? Biomarkers predicting therapy are frequently evaluated on tumour biopsy samples. However, traditional tissue biopsy samples are not always easy to get because they are obtained by invasive methods. Moreover, the traditional biopsy represents essentially a snapshot from a single metastatic site in a given moment. Therefore, it might be inadequate to characterize a tumour because intratumoral and intermetastatic heterogeneity. Both shortcomings might be overcome by liquid biopsy. Liquid biopsies are performed on body fluid samples including blood, urine, spinal fluid and others to detect a wide range of circulating biomarkers, including fragments of DNA and RNA, “extracellular vesicles” containing tumour material, and whole cancer cells. The two principal approaches are represented by circulating tumour cell (CTC) analysis and circulating cell-free tumour DNA (ctDNA). The information obtained from both sources, CTCs and ctDNA, is different, probably complementary, and depends on the context of use. Furthermore, exosomes and circulating microvesicles seem to represent additional tools that may find clinical use in the near term.
This Research Topic aims to present novel insights on the different technological approaches as well as on the diagnostic, prognostic implications of liquid biopsy in different cancer subtypes, and on its predictive relevance, as related to responsiveness and resistance to targeted drugs and chemotherapy.
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