Liquid biopsies in development have oncologists encouraged for their future usage in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, their application may be limited to specific scenarios with tissue biopsies likely to remain the norm, they said.
Physician excitement around liquid biopsies has grown following a plethora of presentations at the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois earlier this month. They have been encouraged by the potential for a noninvasive biopsy route, especially given the various complications associated with standard procedure tissue biopsies in NSCLC. However, oncologists cautioned liquid biopsies will not replace routine biopsies as they carry disadvantages such as the need for additional testing following negative results and high costs.
There are 57 companies currently developing liquid biopsy technologies for usage in oncology, noted Dr David Spigel, director, Lung Cancer Research Program, Sarah Cannon Research Institute, Nashville, Tennessee. They include Myriad Genetics (NASDAQ:MYGN), OncoCyte (NYSEMKT:OCX), Qiagen (NASDAQ:QGEN) and Genomic Health (NASDAQ:GHDX) amongst others.
On 1 June the FDA approved Roche's (VTX:ROG) liquid biopsy companion diagnostic test called cobas EGFR which is used to test EGFR alterations in patients with NSCLC, specifically exon 19 deletions of exon 21 (L858R) substitution mutations, according to a company press release. Redwood City, California-based Guardant Health offers a plasma-based test capable of detecting a number of alterations in genes such as EGFR, MET and NOTCH1, according to the company website.