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Experimental liquid biopsy predicts gastric cancer recurrence

March 5, 2020

Whole blood sample drawing

A blood draw has successfully predicted the recurrence of gastric cancer long before it would otherwise be detectible in the latest example of liquid biopsy’s promise.

The experimental liquid biopsy, less invasive than a tissue biopsy, looked at circulating DNA in the blood samples of patients who had recently undergone gastric surgery.


“Using a deep sequencing approach of cell-free DNA and white blood cells, we found an outstanding prediction of whether the therapy was successful,” senior study author Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology, pathology and medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a news advisory.

“Patients who did not have mutations in the blood after surgery were all cured of cancer, while patients who had mutations in the blood typically recurred,” said Alessandro Leal, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of a paper on the study, which appeared in Nature Communications. “We were able to predict patient outcome about nine months earlier through the blood test than we otherwise could have through clinical evaluation.”

It starts with blood samples

Investigators analyzed blood samples from 50 patients with gastric cancer who participated in a clinical trial involving chemotherapy given around the time of surgery. They performed deep sequencing of both circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and of white blood cells to look for mutations. Subtracting the white blood cells’ potentially confounding information from cfDNA yielded data that investigators could use to predict cancer recurrence within nine weeks following preoperative treatment and surgery.

Liquid biopsy relies on samples of blood or other bodily fluids, raising the potential to sample more easily and frequently during diagnosis and treatment, and to potentially detect cancer earlier. iSpecimen collaborates closely with liquid biopsy developers to provide the samples they require to develop, refine and test their tools and processes.

Our work in supporting liquid biopsy’s development has included:

  • Sourcing fresh whole blood and fractioned plasma from locally advanced and/or metastatic breast cancer patients for a multinational molecular diagnostics company.
  • Sourcing plasma frozen for no more than one year from non-small cell lung cancer patients (NSCLC), past a certain level of staging and treatment, for a leading biotechnology company.
  • Sourcing matched sets of fresh whole blood and cancerous tissue from early stage breast, lung, and colon cancer patients prior to treatment for a cancer diagnostics company.

Whether researchers need biofluids from patients with specific medical histories, with specific laboratory test results, or from healthy/normal donors, iSpecimen can help. Biofluids are available across a range of human biospecimen types—and customized to meet specific processing and quick-turnaround delivery requirements. Available biofluids include (but are not limited to): whole blood, urine, plasma (including double-spun), stool, serum, CSF, buffy coat, saliva, nasal, cheek, cervical, and other swabbed material. View full capabilities and case studies here.

Learn about the iSpecimen Marketplace where you can browse millions of richly annotated, de-identified human tissue and biofluid biospecimens, in addition to hematopoietic and immune cell products. You can join for free and creating a login is easy. Request a quote or custom collection today.

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