Liquid Biopsy Research Core

Precision cancer care aims to develop new therapies and biomarkers based on each patient’s individual molecular tumor profile, but such profiles are difficult to generate from tumor biopsies because of cost, access, and patient safety. Liquid biopsies offer an attractive alternative. Obtained via a simple peripheral blood draw, they provide a non-invasive window into disease biology and progression that can be sampled repeatedly over time at minimal cost and discomfort. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs), cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and cell-free RNA (cfRNA) are isolated from liquid biopsies and increasingly utilized for phenotypic and genomic characterization of solid tumors. Moreover, repeated sampling enables real time tracking of cancer phenotypes as tumor cells evolve over time and through progressive lines of therapy, thereby elucidating mechanisms of cancer dissemination, treatment resistance and identifying new therapeutic targets helping to advance precision medicine. The USC Norris Liquid Biopsy Research Core is a state-of-the-art, multiplatform facility for the capture and analysis of all liquid biopsy components. The Core employs a variety of technologies that enrich rare CTCs for enumeration, phenotypic and/or molecular characterization together with methods for comparative genomic profiling from matched plasma.