Two new studies were recently published of patients with breast and prostate cancers that add to the growing evidence that detecting bits of cancer DNA circulation in the blood can guide patient treatment.
Liquid biopsies offer a non-invasive alternative to standard tissue biopsies and are expected to be a multibillion-dollar market.
However, the key question is whether or not these liquid biopsies really work.
At the moment, 38 companies are working on liquid biopsies for cancer. Analysts at investment bank PiperJaffray believe the U.S. market alone could reach $29 billion a year.
Other financial services estimate that the market could potentially reach $10 billion within the next decade or so.
Some of the world’s largest diagnostic companies and genome companies fear that everyone is accepting liquid biopsies to be a success. Unfortunately at the moment it has not been proven to work.
If liquid biopsies do work, it is fantastic, but the next question will be whether or not it works for all cancers.
Researchers hope that liquid biospies could be used as a simple way to sample tumor DNA in the blood to see if patients are responding to treatment, check for mutations or drug resistance, or see if cancer has returned. Eventually liquid biopsies could be used to screen healthy patients.
However, more studies are needed, it is still unsure whether or not liquid biopsies will be successful at all.
Liquid biopsies would allow doctors to be immediately notified when a cancer starts changing and could adapt therapy to suit the changes. Currently therapy is changed when the cancer progresses or grows, but researchers know that mutations occur much earlier.