USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

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. The USC Norris Liquid Biopsy Research Core (LBC) is a state-of-the-art, multi-platform facility for the capture and analysis of all liquid biopsy components. The LBC employs a variety of technologies that enrich rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) for enumeration, phenotypic and/or molecular characterization, together with methods for comparative genomic profiling from matched plasma. The mission of the LBC is to assemble a state-of-the-art, multi-platform facility for capture and analysis of peripheral blood CTCs and matched plasma nucleic acids, and to make this technology and expertise available to USC Norris members.

LBC Services

      • Free consultation to USC Norris investigators for project design and implementation and for associated grant proposals to help choose the appropriate liquid biopsy technology.
      • Development and validation of new workflows around specific cells, protein markers, or genes based on investigator needs for new studies.
      • CellSearch-based CTC enrichment and enumeration.
      • Leica Bond RXm/RareCyte high-content CTC IF analysis and single CTC recovery.
      • Liquid Biopsy CTC enrichment for targeted next generation sequencing.
      • DEPArray pure CTC recovery for gene expression profiling.
      • Microfluidic CTC enrichment for downstream genomic, transcriptomic and epigenetic analysis.
      • Plasma separation, extraction, and banking of cell-free DNA for next generation sequencing.
      • Ficoll-based centrifugation for recovery and banking of buffy coats.
      • Distribution of blood collection kits for multi-center Phase 3 studies.
      • Workflows that enable preliminary processing of precious patient samples, followed by stable storage.

LBC Policies

      • LBC operates Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Given the specialized skills required to operate instruments, individual training is not provided for non-Core personnel. Rather, investigators contact the Core Director regarding LBC needs which are discussed in person prior to project launch.
      • The FBS Priority Software is utilized for all chargeback billing and reviewed regularly with USC Norris Administration.
      • USC Norris full members’ projects receive priority access to LBC services, and among these projects the highest priority is given to NCI-supported research or grant submissions, then to non-NCI peer reviewed projects, followed by peer-reviewed paper and abstract preparation.
      • For sample processing, priority is given to live CTC samples that are prone to degradation (processed upon arrival), followed by CTC samples in preservatives/fixatives and those that can be separated by rapid centrifugation and frozen at -80°C.
      • LBC’s capabilities are highlighted in multiple presentations at USC, such as the USC Keck School of Medicine Research Core Fair, the USC Translational Genomics Symposium, at USC Norris Leadership Council Meetings, and at Hematology-Oncology Protocol Meetings. Beyond USC, the LBC’s capabilities are highlighted in USC Norris Grand Rounds and program meetings, as well as through national and international talks.
      • LBC will provide initial free consultation to those requesting Core services to determine the feasibility and scope of a project. The potential outputs of the initial consultation period will be a feasibility assessment, project scope, and project plan including cost estimate and timeline. Once the project plan is developed and agreed upon, all further activities will generate Core charges.
      • Acknowledgment of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center CCSG grant (NCI grant # P30CA014089) in scientific manuscripts is required when LBC services have been provided.

LBC Leadership