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Inside the Lab Biochemistry and molecular biology, Clinical care, Liquid biopsy, Genetics and epigenetics, Oncology, Precision medicine, Technology and innovation, Omics

One Drop at a Time

At a Glance

  • Both liquid and tissue biopsy have strengths and weaknesses – but when a rapid, minimally invasive test is key, then liquid biopsy has the edge
  • Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) is fast, sensitive, and accurate in cases where minimal tumor DNA must be detected
  • Unlike other digital PCR technologies, ddPCR offers a simple workflow and rapid analysis using droplets for absolute quantification
  • As biomarker technology advances, many ddPCR tests are moving into routine use – for instance, to detect activating BRAF and EGFR mutations

Liquid biopsy is a hot topic in pathology at the moment – but, like many hot topics, we must delve deeper to discover the true pros and cons, and to uncover the most effective methods of accessing the benefits while avoiding pitfalls. In the case of liquid biopsy, it’s a minimally invasive technique that can provide rapid results. Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) introduces speed and sensitivity, as well as absolute quantification to the liquid biopsy analysis. Alexander Dobrovic and Cloud Paweletz discuss their laboratories’ experiences with ddPCR and how other pathologists can achieve the same results.

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About the Author

Alexander Dobrovic and Cloud Paweletz

Alexander Dobrovic is Head of the Translational Genomics and Epigenomics Laboratory at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Heidelberg, Australia.
Cloud Paweletz is head of the Translational Research Laboratory at the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, USA.

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