Primary Molecular Biomarkers Detected by Liquid Biopsy Assay

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Liquid Biopsy Assays. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

Learn more about Liquid Biopsy Assays (online CE course)
Primary Molecular Biomarkers Detected by Liquid Biopsy Assay

As previously stated, a liquid biopsy can be defined as a minimally invasive method to detect certain molecular biomarkers in blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or urine. Liquid biopsy typically analyzes circulating cancer cells or traces of a cancer's RNA or DNA present in a blood sample. Liquid biopsy assays have the ability to identify unique cancer mutations in the form of microscopic fragments of DNA or RNA in a patient's blood. Tumor-related circulating-free DNA or RNA are released by tumor cells and circulate in the blood of cancer patients.
The main molecular biomarkers detected in blood by a liquid biopsy assay are:
  1. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs)
  2. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA)
  3. Exosomes
This course will describe liquid biopsy assays that involve each of these biomarkers. The graphic on the right illustrates the tumor biomarkers circulating in the bloodstream.