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      The potential of liquid biopsies for the early detection of cancer

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          Abstract

          Precision medicine refers to the choosing of targeted therapies based on genetic data. Due to the increasing availability of data from large-scale tumor genome sequencing projects, genome-driven oncology may have enormous potential to change the clinical management of patients with cancer. To this end, components of tumors, which are shed into the circulation, i.e., circulating tumor cells (CTCs), circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), or extracellular vesicles, are increasingly being used for monitoring tumor genomes. A growing number of publications have documented that these “liquid biopsies” are informative regarding response to given therapies, are capable of detecting relapse with lead time compared to standard measures, and reveal mechanisms of resistance. However, the majority of published studies relate to advanced tumor stages and the use of liquid biopsies for detection of very early malignant disease stages is less well documented. In early disease stages, strategies for analysis are in principle relatively similar to advanced stages. However, at these early stages, several factors pose particular difficulties and challenges, including the lower frequency and volume of aberrations, potentially confounding phenomena such as clonal expansions of non-tumorous tissues or the accumulation of cancer-associated mutations with age, and the incomplete insight into driver alterations. Here we discuss biology, technical complexities and clinical significance for early cancer detection and their impact on precision oncology.

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          Most cited references 129

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          Exosome-mediated transfer of mRNAs and microRNAs is a novel mechanism of genetic exchange between cells.

          Exosomes are vesicles of endocytic origin released by many cells. These vesicles can mediate communication between cells, facilitating processes such as antigen presentation. Here, we show that exosomes from a mouse and a human mast cell line (MC/9 and HMC-1, respectively), as well as primary bone marrow-derived mouse mast cells, contain RNA. Microarray assessments revealed the presence of mRNA from approximately 1300 genes, many of which are not present in the cytoplasm of the donor cell. In vitro translation proved that the exosome mRNAs were functional. Quality control RNA analysis of total RNA derived from exosomes also revealed presence of small RNAs, including microRNAs. The RNA from mast cell exosomes is transferable to other mouse and human mast cells. After transfer of mouse exosomal RNA to human mast cells, new mouse proteins were found in the recipient cells, indicating that transferred exosomal mRNA can be translated after entering another cell. In summary, we show that exosomes contain both mRNA and microRNA, which can be delivered to another cell, and can be functional in this new location. We propose that this RNA is called "exosomal shuttle RNA" (esRNA).
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            Circulating microRNAs as stable blood-based markers for cancer detection.

            Improved approaches for the detection of common epithelial malignancies are urgently needed to reduce the worldwide morbidity and mortality caused by cancer. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small ( approximately 22 nt) regulatory RNAs that are frequently dysregulated in cancer and have shown promise as tissue-based markers for cancer classification and prognostication. We show here that miRNAs are present in human plasma in a remarkably stable form that is protected from endogenous RNase activity. miRNAs originating from human prostate cancer xenografts enter the circulation, are readily measured in plasma, and can robustly distinguish xenografted mice from controls. This concept extends to cancer in humans, where serum levels of miR-141 (a miRNA expressed in prostate cancer) can distinguish patients with prostate cancer from healthy controls. Our results establish the measurement of tumor-derived miRNAs in serum or plasma as an important approach for the blood-based detection of human cancer.
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              Cancer genome landscapes.

              Over the past decade, comprehensive sequencing efforts have revealed the genomic landscapes of common forms of human cancer. For most cancer types, this landscape consists of a small number of "mountains" (genes altered in a high percentage of tumors) and a much larger number of "hills" (genes altered infrequently). To date, these studies have revealed ~140 genes that, when altered by intragenic mutations, can promote or "drive" tumorigenesis. A typical tumor contains two to eight of these "driver gene" mutations; the remaining mutations are passengers that confer no selective growth advantage. Driver genes can be classified into 12 signaling pathways that regulate three core cellular processes: cell fate, cell survival, and genome maintenance. A better understanding of these pathways is one of the most pressing needs in basic cancer research. Even now, however, our knowledge of cancer genomes is sufficient to guide the development of more effective approaches for reducing cancer morbidity and mortality.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                michael.speicher@medunigraz.at
                Journal
                NPJ Precis Oncol
                NPJ Precis Oncol
                NPJ Precision Oncology
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2397-768X
                17 October 2017
                17 October 2017
                2017
                : 1
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0000 8988 2476, GRID grid.11598.34, Institute of Human Genetics, , Medical University of Graz, ; Neue Stiftingtalstraße 6, A-8010 Graz, Austria
                [2 ]GRID grid.452216.6, BioTechMed-Graz, ; Graz, Austria
                Article
                39
                10.1038/s41698-017-0039-5
                5871864
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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