Breakthrough in brain tumour liquid biopsy

A research team based in Catalonia, Spain, has pioneered a more accurate and less invasive liquid biopsy technique for brain tumours.

The research, led by Dr Joan Seoane, at the Vall d'Hebron Insitute of Oncology Gene Expression and Cancer Group, has discovered that biopsies taken from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) instead of from a blood sample.

Previously such liquid biopsies were effective for other types of cancer but not for brain tumours, which gave very little results for tumour DNA in blood plasma samples. CSF samples, taken by lumbar puncture, is less invasive and has less risks associated with the procedure.

“The brain has its own closed circuit of fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes the brain and spinal cord and is therefore in direct contact with tumour cells,” said Dr Seoane.
“We found circulating DNA in CSF at such high levels that we were able to detect and characterise tumours with a high degree of sensitivity.”

Josep Tabernero, director of VHIO and co-author of the study said: “This new approach to liquid biopsy in CSF could help consider novel, more specific and targeted experimental therapies, which could in turn also improve clinical response.”

Find out more about the team's research