Liquid Biopsy Project

Liquid Biopsy Project
Professor Sean Grimmond from the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research led a project using genomic tools for detection and monitoring of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in patient blood samples to enable cancer detection, surveillance and recurrence screening.

Lead: Professor Sean Grimmond, University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research

The University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research’s clinical genomics team received support from the TAGC Innovation Fund to pioneer a less invasive way to collect tumour information from a simple blood test by deciphering small amounts of cancer-specific mutations in the bloodstream known as circulating tumour DNA (or ctDNA).

Compared with traditional tissue sampling, this less-invasive procedure can drastically reduce time to diagnosis, allowing earlier cancer detection, more accurate surveillance, and monitoring of recurrence. It can also identify early stages of developing drug resistance.

"Liquid biopsies have the potential to offer cutting edge genomic testing and treatment options to patients who do not have tissue available, allowing us to provide diagnostic certainty and actionable insights for thousands of additional cancer patients who might otherwise fall through the cracks every year."
Professor Sean Grimmond

Traditional screening approaches vary in their cost, invasiveness and effectiveness. To be effective, they involve over-monitoring of low-risk patients and under-examining of at-risk individuals in our population.

This project implemented automated ctDNA isolation, rapid sequencing and a bioinformatics analysis pipeline. It also established parameters for liquid biopsy sample collection and testing from hospitals outside of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Alliance.

Genomics-driven healthcare is in the process of revolutionising how biomedical science diagnoses, treats, cures and prevents disease around the world.