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Circulating biomarkers to monitor cancer progression and treatment

Rapisuwon, Suthee, Vietsch, Eveline E., Wellstein, Anton
Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal 2016 v.14 pp. 211-222
DNA, biomarkers, biotechnology, blood sampling, gene expression regulation, messenger RNA, metastasis, monitoring, mutants, neoplasms, non-coding RNA, nucleotide sequences, patients, sequence analysis
Tumor heterogeneity is a major challenge and the root cause of resistance to treatment. Still, the standard diagnostic approach relies on the analysis of a single tumor sample from a local or metastatic site that is obtained at a given time point. Due to intratumoral heterogeneity and selection of subpopulations in diverse lesions this will provide only a limited characterization of the makeup of the disease. On the other hand, recent developments of nucleic acid sequence analysis allows to use minimally invasive serial blood samples to assess the mutational status and altered gene expression patterns for real time monitoring in individual patients. Here, we focus on cell-free circulating tumor-specific mutant DNA and RNA (including mRNA and non-coding RNA), as well as current limitations and challenges associated with circulating nucleic acids biomarkers.