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New Frontiers in Liquid Biopsy Research: A Webinar Series

About the Series

GenomeWeb has partnered with Thermo Fisher Scientific to produce a series of online seminars highlighting the opportunities and challenges of implementing innovative liquid biopsy technologies for cancer research.

Liquid biopsy has been gaining traction within cancer research as a complementary or alternative technique to solid tissue biopsy due to a few key reasons:

  • Less invasive procedure may enable sampling at multiple time points to potentially monitor progression of the cancer 
  • Better representation of tumor heterogeneity 
  • Faster turnaround time from sample to results 
  • Lower costs compared with traditional tissue biopsies

Liquid biopsy technologies are evolving quickly and many research labs have questions about the best approaches for implementing these methods. This series provides first-hand accounts from researchers adopting liquid biopsy technologies and will explore the discoveries enabled by these novel approaches.  

March 27, 2018 10:00 AM ET

Adding CNVs and Fusions to a Lung cfDNA Assay: Impact on Oncology Clinical Research

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The series kicked off with a presentation from Bea Bellosillo, head of pathology at the Hospital del Mar, who discusses her experience evaluating an early-access lung cancer panel that detects copy number variants and fusions.

Dr. Bellosillo’s research lab was previously using the Ion Torrent Oncomine Lung cfDNA Assay from Thermo Fisher when it enrolled as a test site for an early-access program for the new lung panel that detects CNVs and fusions. Preliminary testing with the Oncomine Lung cfTNA (circulating free total nucleic acid) Assay indicated the presence of a RET fusion, which had not been detected previously. The finding led to a retrospective study of that sample where the RET fusion on the primary tumor was confirmed by FISH.

Following Dr. Bellosillo’s talk, Kelli Bramlett, senior director of R&D at the Clinical Next-Generation Sequencing Division at Thermo Fisher Scientific, presents a new white paper that showcases the performance of the new variant types introduced in the Oncomine Lung cfTNA Assay that Dr. Bellosillo was evaluating.

April 26, 2018 | 11:00 AM ET

Evaluation of a Pan-Cancer Cell-Free Assay to Meet Unmet Research Needs 

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During the second webinar in the series, Luca Quagliata, Senior Consultant in the Molecular Pathology Unit at University Hospital Basel, shares two specific unmet needs within his lab’s liquid biopsy research that led to the eventual evaluation, adoption, and implementation of the latest liquid biopsy Oncomine NGS solutions from Thermo Fisher.

Dr. Quagliata’s lab at University Hospital Basel’s Molecular Pathology Unit has established methodologies for the genomic analysis of circulating cell-free tumor DNA (cfDNA) for lung and colon cancer research. The team’s validated workflow includes cfDNA extraction from plasma followed by next-generation sequencing with commercially available or specific custom-made gene panels and clinical interpretation of results to support their study.

Dr. Quagliata discusses two challenges that his lab faced with early liquid biopsy assays: 1) they could not detect fusions, and 2) they could not detect mutations from multiple cancer types with one NGS assay. He will share details of how the Ion Torrent Oncomine Lung Cell-Free Total Nucleic Acid Assay addresses the first of these challenges and how the Ion Torrent Oncomine Pan-Cancer Cell-Free Assay addresses the second.


May 22, 2018 | 11:00 AM ET

From Qualitative to Quantitative: Experiences with a cfDNA Assay in Metastatic Breast Cancer 

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During the third webinar in the series, Dr. Liya Xu of the University of Southern California Michelson Center for Convergent Biosciences discusses her team’s work using liquid biopsy technology for breast cancer research.

In particular, Dr. Xu presents her team’s experience establishing the Ion Torrent Oncomine Breast cfDNA Assay v2 at USC, including installation of the sequencing instruments. This new workflow for quantitative evaluation of cell-free DNA is an expansion of the team’s existing HD-SCA (high-definition single cell analysis) workflow and an update of the previous qualitative Ion AmpliSeq Cancer Hotspot Panel pipeline.

Dr. Xu presents data from liquid biopsy research samples from metastatic breast cancer, demonstrating integration of analytical variables of cfDNA samples obtained from the Oncomine Breast cfDNA assay v2 and genomic analysis and protein marker data from single circulating tumor cells. An overarching application of this work is to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the disease.