Publication Details

Sareen, H., Garrett, C., Lynch, D., Powter, B., Brungs, D., Cooper, A., Po, J., Koh, E., Vessey, J., Mckechnie, S., Bazina, R., Sheridan, M., van Gelder, J., Darwish, B., Jaeger, M., Roberts, T., De Souza, P. & Becker, T. (2020). The role of liquid biopsies in detecting molecular tumor biomarkers in brain cancer patients. Cancers, 12 (7), 1-16.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most lethal primary central nervous system cancers with a median overall survival of only 12–15 months. The best documented treatment is surgical tumor debulking followed by chemoradiation and adjuvant chemotherapy with temozolomide, but treatment resistance and therefore tumor recurrence, is the usual outcome. Although advances in molecular subtyping suggests GBM can be classified into four subtypes, one concern about using the original histology for subsequent treatment decisions is that it only provides a static snapshot of heterogeneous tumors that may undergo longitudinal changes over time, especially under selective pressure of ongoing therapy. Liquid biopsies obtained from bodily fluids like blood and cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) are less invasive, and more easily repeated than surgery. However, their deployment for patients with brain cancer is only emerging, and possibly suppressed clinically due to the ongoing belief that the blood brain barrier prevents the egress of circulating tumor cells, exosomes, and circulating tumor nucleic acids into the bloodstream. Although brain cancer liquid biopsy analyses appear indeed challenging, advances have been made and here we evaluate the current literature on the use of liquid biopsies for detection of clinically relevant biomarkers in GBM to aid diagnosis and prognostication.



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