Combinatorial Power of cfDNA, CTCs and EVs in Oncology

Liquid biopsy is a promising technique for clinical management of oncological patients. The diversity of analytes circulating in the blood useable for liquid biopsy testing is enormous. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs), cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and extracellular vesicles (EVs), as well as blood cells and other soluble components in the plasma, were shown as liquid biopsy analytes. A few studies directly comparing two liquid biopsy analytes showed a benefit of one analyte over the other, while most authors concluded the benefit of the additional analyte. Only three years ago, the first studies to examine the value of a characterization of more than two liquid biopsy analytes from the same sample were conducted. We attempt to reflect on the recent development of multimodal liquid biopsy testing in this review. Although the analytes and clinical purposes of the published multimodal studies differed significantly, the additive value of the analytes was concluded in almost all projects. Thus, the blood components, as liquid biopsy reservoirs, are complementary rather than competitive, and orthogonal data sets were even shown to harbor synergistic effects. The unmistakable potential of multimodal liquid biopsy testing, however, is dampened by its clinical utility, which is yet to be proven, the lack of methodical standardization and insufficiently mature reimbursement, logistics and data handling.


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