New technology on the horizon: Fast analytical screening technique FNA (FAST-FNA) enables rapid, multiplex biomarker analysis in head and neck cancers

Cancer Cytopathol. 2020 Nov;128(11):782-791. doi: 10.1002/cncy.22305. Epub 2020 Aug 25.


PD-L1 profiling was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a companion diagnostic for anti-PD1 treatment in patients with head and neck cancer, ushering in a new era for precision medicine. However, the routine development and implementation of such testing is still limited by current clinical workflows and the lack of better and more comprehensive alternatives. In this review, the authors discuss the real-world challenges of clinically based biomarker testing and highlight the advantages of developing fine-needle aspiration (FNA)-based biomarker testing that would enable frequent and serial tumor sampling. A conceptual and technological innovation is introduced, fast analytical screening technique (FAST)-FNA (FAST chemistry-enabled FNA), which is being developed to inform immunotherapy treatment options in patients with head and neck cancer and to assist with the development of the next generation of predictive biomarkers.

Keywords: biomarkers; fine-needle aspiration; head and neck squamous cell carcinomas; immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Early Detection of Cancer / instrumentation*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans


  • Biomarkers, Tumor