Liquid Biopsy: An Evolving Paradigm for Non-invasive Disease Diagnosis and Monitoring in Medicine

Cureus. 2023 Dec 8;15(12):e50176. doi: 10.7759/cureus.50176. eCollection 2023 Dec.


Liquid biopsy stands as an innovative instrument in the realm of precision medicine, enabling non-invasive disease diagnosis and the early detection of cancer. Liquid biopsy helps in the extraction of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), circulating tumor cells (CTCs), and cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from blood samples and other body fluids, thereby facilitating disease diagnosis and prediction of high-risk patients. Various techniques such as advanced sequencing methods and biomarker-based cell capture have led to the isolation and study of the different biomarkers such as ctDNA, cfDNA, and CTCs. These biopsies also have immense potential in the early detection and diagnosis of various diseases across all medical specialties, prediction and screening of high-risk cases, and detection of different immune response patterns in response to infectious diseases, and also help in predicting treatment outcomes. Although liquid biopsy has the potential to disrupt the field of medical diagnosis, it is met by various challenges such as limited tumor-derived components, less specificity, and inadequate advancement in methods to isolate biomarkers. Despite all these challenges, liquid biopsies provide the potential to become a minimally invasive method of diagnosis that would facilitate real-time monitoring of patients, which differentiates them from traditional tissue biopsies. This article aims to provide a complete overview of the current technologies, different biomarkers, and body fluids that can be used in liquid biopsy and its clinical applications and the potential impact that liquid biopsy holds in the field of precision medicine, facilitating early diagnosis and prompt management of various diseases and cancers.

Keywords: cell-free dna; circulating exosomes; circulating tumor cells (ctcs); ctdna; liquid biopsy; precision medicine.

Publication types

  • Review