LIQUID BIOPSY TRACKS LUNG TUMOUR EVOLUTIONJuly 5, 2019
Liquid biopsy, the next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based blood test, can detect and monitor the progressively changing genetics of lung tumours while showing results comparable to tissue biopsies, European researchers say.
A new retrospective clinical research study showing comparable results between liquid and tissue biopsy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) demonstrated the clinical utility of liquid biopsy for monitoring patients’ response to treatment.
Researchers from University Hospital Basel, University of Porto and Hospital of Sao Joao looked at matched tissue and liquid biopsies from 159 NSCLC patients. Among 94 of the patients who had concurrent NGS analysis at diagnosis, 88 percent presented the same clinically relevant mutations in tissue and plasma samples.
While concordance was extremely high when a liquid biopsy was conducted immediately after the initial tissue biopsy, the researchers observed it drop to 72 percent when plasma NGS analysis was performed at later stages.
The researchers believe the divergence results from genetic drift caused by the development of new mutations during treatment.
“It can take several weeks to months to observe visible signs of relapse when you’re monitoring for disease progression using radiological scan. In contrast, multiple studies have highlighted that liquid biopsy can identify genetic markers associated with resistance to treatment even before clinical signs manifest,” said co-author Luca Quagliata, Ph D, global head of medical affairs for clinical NGS and oncology, Thermo Fisher Scientific, in a statement.
The results demonstrated that liquid biopsy NGS can provide early insights on tumour progression, thus offering a powerful tool for non-invasive longitudinal cancer monitoring to guide the care team on the best course of treatment.
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, researchers noted.
While previous studies have compared tissue sample to liquid biopsy results, this is the first study presenting tissue and liquid biopsy data from NGS analysis conducted in-house rather than from analysis conducted at centralized testing facilities.