The Liquid Biopsy Revolution: First Steps and Far Horizons
A new type of blood test, known as a liquid biopsy, can accurately and quickly identify gene mutations associated with cancers such as non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Clinicians can select the best treatment option for their patients through identification of these specific gene mutations and save potential NSCLC patients from undergoing invasive tissue biopsies that may be unnecessary and delay treatment.
Actionable mutations play an important role in the development or progression of a tumour, and specific therapies targeting those mutations can improve patient outcomes. In the case of NSCLC, such mutations can identify patients who may be sensitive or resistant to a particular cancer therapy, allowing clinicians to make earlier, individualised treatment choices.
Industry thought leader Gary Pestano, PhD, will discuss his group’s work, which was recently published in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics. The study is the first of its kind to demonstrate the uptake of blood-based testing for actionable mutations in a non-hospital (community) setting. Physicians and patients in a community setting may not have easy access to a large hospital or other diagnosis and treatment facility. The test is based on Droplet Digital PCR technology, and the assay provides results within 72 hours from sample receipt. The new test uses a highly sensitive gene mutation detection method to detect specific circulating tumour DNA mutations and RNA variants in whole blood.
In addition to providing insights regarding selection of treatment, this blood test may also prove helpful in assessing the presence of residual disease, recurrence, or relapse and detection of therapy-resistant cancer cells more quickly than conventional tissue-based methods. This study represents a step forward in personalised cancer treatments.
Gary Pestano, PhD
Vice President of Development and Operations, Biodesix, Inc.
A seasoned biotech leader, Dr. Pestano heads up Product Development and Operations at Biodesix. His experience in laboratory and assay development for high complexity molecular diagnostics for oncology includes molecular and proteomic testing. Prior to joining Biodesix in 2012, Dr. Pestano led multidisciplinary teams in the development of tissue diagnostic tests, cancer vaccines and scientific software. He held senior positions in PharmaServices, R&D and Project Leadership at Ventana, a member of the Roche Group. Dr. Pestano is the co-inventor on multiple national and international patents for diagnostic tests. He has also fostered many collaborations in academia and industry as a part of new product development. Dr. Pestano received his Ph.D. training in Cell and Molecular Biology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York and conducted his post-doctoral training in cancer immunology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School.