In 2014, the clinical sequencing team and our pharmaceutical partners began a collaboration focused on increasing the use of next-generation sequencing (NGS) in the clinical domain. We saw an obvious unmet need, especially in oncology, and we believed that NGS could help patients find the right therapy faster. NGS includes tissue (solid tumor biopsy) sequencing, of course, but liquid biopsy has the potential to become the laboratory professionals’ assay of choice for several reasons: it’s less invasive than a typical solid tissue biopsy, hence potentially cheaper for patients and healthcare providers, and can be used when obtaining a solid tissue biopsy is not feasible due to location of tumor or patient health.
The liquid biopsy sample is usually blood, but it can be any fluid containing genetic material; the source of the DNA or RNA is irrelevant after sample preparation. Of course, nucleic acids – though currently the main focus of liquid biopsy studies – aren’t the end of the story; such tests have the ability to examine not only DNA and RNA, but also proteins, exosomes, and entire circulating tumor cells.
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