Unraveling Tumor Heterogeneity by Using DNA Barcoding Technologies to Develop Personalized Treatment Strategies in Advanced-Stage PDAC
Tumor heterogeneity is a hallmark of many solid tumors, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), and an inherent consequence of the clonal evolution of cancers. As such, it is considered the underlying concept of many characteristics of the disease, including the ability to metastasize, adapt to different microenvironments, and to develop therapy resistance. Undoubtedly, the high mortality of PDAC can be attributed to a high extent to these properties. Despite its apparent importance, studying tumor heterogeneity has been a challenging task, mainly due to its complexity and lack of appropriate methods. However, in recent years molecular DNA barcoding has emerged as a sophisticated tool that allows mapping of individual cells or subpopulations in a cell pool to study heterogeneity and thus devise new personalized treatment strategies. In this review, we provide an overview of genetic and non-genetic inter- and intra-tumor heterogeneity and its impact on (personalized) treatment strategies in PDAC and address how DNA barcoding technologies work and can be applied to study this clinically highly relevant question.