Liquid biopsy in pancreatic cancer: the beginning of a new era

Dipesh Kumar Yadav, Xueli Bai, Rajesh Kumar Yadav, Alina Singh, Guogang Li, Tao Ma, Wei Chen and Tingbo Liang _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:26900-26933. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24809

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Dipesh Kumar Yadav1, Xueli Bai1, Rajesh Kumar Yadav2, Alina Singh3, Guogang Li1, Tao Ma1, Wei Chen1 and Tingbo Liang1

1Department of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, The Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310009, China

2Department of Pharmacology, Gandaki Medical College, Tribhuwan University, Institute of Medicine, Pokhara 33700, Nepal

3Department of Surgery, Bir Hospital, National Academy of Medical Science, Kanti Path, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal

Correspondence to:

Tingbo Liang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: liquid biopsy; pancreatic cancer; circulating tumor cells; circulating tumor nucleic acids; exosomes

Received: October 26, 2017     Accepted: February 25, 2018     Published: June 01, 2018


With dismal survival rate pancreatic cancer remains one of the most aggressive and devastating malignancy. Predominantly, due to the absence of a dependable methodology for early identification and limited therapeutic options for advanced disease. However, it takes over 17 years to develop pancreatic cancer from initiation of mutation to metastatic cancer; therefore, if diagnosed early; it may increase overall survival dramatically, thus, providing a window of opportunity for early detection. Recently, genomic expression analysis defined 4 subtypes of pancreatic cancer based on mutated genes. Hence, we need simple and standard, minimally invasive test that can monitor those altered genes or their associated pathways in time for the success of precision medicine, and liquid biopsy seems to be one answer to all these questions. Again, liquid biopsy has an ability to pair with genomic tests. Additionally, liquid biopsy based development of circulating tumor cells derived xeno­grafts, 3D organoids system, real-time monitoring of genetic mutations by circulating tumor DNA and exosome as the targeted drug delivery vehicle holds lots of potential for the treatment and cure of pancreatic cancer. At present, diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is frantically done on the premise of CA19-9 and radiological features only, which doesn’t give a picture of genetic mutations and epigenetic alteration involved. In this manner, the current diagnostic paradigm for pancreatic cancer diagnosis experiences low diagnostic accuracy. This review article discusses the current state of liquid biopsy in pancreatic cancer as diagnostic and therapeutic tools and future perspectives of research in the light of circulating tumor cells, circulating tumor DNA and exosomes.

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