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Liquid Biopsy: Orchestrating A Paradigm Shift In Monitoring Cancer

In India, these tests are available at a handful of certified laboratories like Strand NGS Labs. These tests can be prescribed by medical practitioners at any hospital

Diagnosis, administration of chemo- or radio-therapy, a wait-and watch approach for new clinical symptoms of cancer (6-12 months) and fresh rounds of chemo- and radio-therapy is the established pattern of cancer care. The wait period for emergence of clinical symptoms is the hardest part where both doctors and patients are in limbo, without specific clues about how a cancer is going to 'behave'- remain quiet or grow aggressively- after the last round of therapy.

In cases of lung cancer, a person needs to undergo a biopsy to obtain some lung tissue. It is known that in~30% of lung cancer cases, getting a sold tissue biopsy of good quality is the first hurdle. Even if a biopsy is obtained and the diagnosis of lung cancer is confirmed, the patient has to face the next hurdle of expensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Post an extensive therapy, there is a perpetual confusion if the cancer will be suppressed or there will be a relapse. Currently, a PET-CT scan, done once a year, is the only method of checking if the cancer is likely to come back or not. A technique that allows a sneak peek at the status of a cancer in this period would be of immense value to the field.  

In India, Strand Life Sciences has launched a portfolio of liquid biopsy tests that will help in identifying and tracking the genetic signature of a cancer, throughout the course of the disease, in every single patient. Cancers are dynamic diseases and the profile of genes that are mutated (changed) in these cells is likely to change naturally, as well as post treatment. So, monitoring how a patient's cancer responds to treatment and whether it is likely to recur, are two important issues to be tackled.

The latest technique to identify and monitor the genetic signature of Lung Cancer that the medical fraternity is warming up to is a Liquid Biopsy test. Essentially, these tests are a set of new blood tests that enable scientists to extract and analyze DNA shed by cancer cells in a patient's blood. The presence or absence and the concentration of characteristic mutations in the liquid biopsy provide an accurate snapshot of cancer.  A unique feature of these tests is that these are not 'one size fits all' kind of tests. Liquid biopsy tests are personalized tests that are modified to track cancer in each patient in a specific fashion.

In India, these tests are available at a handful of certified laboratories like Strand NGS Labs. These tests can be prescribed by medical practitioners at any hospital.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Liquid Biopsy healthcare CT scan opinion

Dr Vijay Chandru

Dr. Chandru has three decades of experience straddling various geographies, academic environments and industries. He was elected a Fellow of the Indian Academies of Sciences and Engineering. Dr. Chandru is an Adjunct Faculty at the Centre for Biosystems Science and Engineering (BSSE) at IISc in Bangalore.

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