Liquid biopsy: one cell at a time

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Liquid biopsy: one cell at a time
Liquid biopsy: one cell at a time
Journal Title:
NPJ Precision Oncology
Publication Date:
02 October 2019
Lim, S.B., Di Lee, W., Vasudevan, J. et al. Liquid biopsy: one cell at a time. npj Precis. Onc. 3, 23 (2019).
As an alternative target to surgically resected tissue specimens, liquid biopsy has gained much attention over the past decade. Of the various circulating biomarkers, circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have particularly opened new windows into the metastatic cascade, with their functional, biochemical, and biophysical properties. Given the extreme rarity of intact CTCs and the associated technical challenges, however, analyses have been limited to bulk-cell strategies, missing out on clinically significant sources of information from cellular heterogeneity. With recent technological developments, it is now possible to probe genetic material of CTCs at the single-cell resolution to study spatial and temporal dynamics in circulation. Here, we discuss recent transcriptomic profiling efforts that enabled single-cell characterization of patient-derived CTCs spanning diverse cancer types. We further highlight how expression data of these putative biomarkers have advanced our understanding of metastatic spectrum and provided a basis for the development of CTC-based liquid biopsies to track, monitor, and predict the efficacy of therapy and any emergent resistance.
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Funding Info:
This work was carried out at the MechanoBioengineering Laboratory at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore (NUS). We thank support provided by the Institute for Health Innovation and Technology (iHealthtech) at NUS. W.-T.L. is supported by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC/CSA/040/2012 and NMRC/CSA-INV/0025/2017). S.B.L. is supported by NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering (NGS), Mogam Science Scholarship Foundation, and Daewoong Foundation. We thank Zac Goh for the illustration of single-cell microfluidic device.
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