Cancer is known to be one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2019, 0.6 million deaths due to cancer are estimated in the US alone. Moreover, the World Health Organization has estimated the number of new cancer cases to rise by 70% over the next 20 years. One of the primary reasons for the high mortality associated with this condition is believed to be late diagnosis. This results in delayed treatment, which severely compromises chances of survival. For many years, tissue biopsy has been considered the gold standard for cancer diagnosis. However, owing to the invasive nature of the test, biopsies cannot be repeated frequently to assess / measure disease progression or monitor therapeutic outcome. In fact, in some cases, it is not possible to carry out a biopsy because the affected tissue / organ is not amenable to undergo such a painful and traumatic procedure. This has resulted in a significant unmet need for safer and more patient friendly cancer diagnostics that are capable of offering accurate test results and focus is shifting towards liquid biopsy.
Advances in the field of biotechnology have enabled the establishment of several minimally invasive / non-invasive approaches for disease diagnosis. Amongst other promising diagnostic tools, liquid biopsy has emerged as a versatile and promising non-invasive cancer diagnostic tool. This procedure is based on the analysis of biofluids (such as blood, urine and / or plasma) in order to detect rare forms of biomarkers / tumor markers, such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs), circulating tumor DNA / RNA (ctNAs), circulating free DNA (cfDNA) and exosomes. Moreover, liquid biopsies have been demonstrated to be capable of assessing the stage of tumor at the time of sample extraction. Additionally, owing to the non-invasive nature of the test, it can be actively used to monitor / track changes in tumors, both before and during the course of treatment.
Non-Invasive Tests Currently Available / Under Development
Presently, nearly 300 non-invasive diagnostic tests, designed for the detection of various types of cancers, are either already available in the market or under development across the world.
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Over time, big pharma players have initiated product development programs, having invested significant capital, time and effort, on non-invasive diagnostic solutions
Over the years, various well-established big pharmaceutical players have marked their presence in the field of liquid biopsy, by either expanding their respective product portfolios, partnering with other companies, or investing in liquid biopsy development initiatives.
Click here to know about the initiatives taken by big pharma players in this domain.
Billions of Dollars are Being Invested in Funding the Initiatives of Various Players for the Development of Novel Liquid Biopsies and Other Non-Invasive Cancer Diagnostics
Investors, having realized the untapped opportunity within this emerging segment of the cancer diagnostics market, have invested over USD 3 billion across 120 instances in the period between 2015 and 2019.
The increase in funding activity in recent years is proof of the fact that liquid biopsies and other non-invasive cancer diagnostics has brought about a paradigm shift in the field of cancer diagnosis. To get an elaborate list of funding instances in this segment, please click here.
Given the painful and cost-intensive nature of traditional biopsies, non-invasive diagnostics are the need of the hour. While traditional biopsies have been successful in diagnosing cancers, they are not the right armament for patient / recurrence monitoring. Further, tissue biopsies have failed to make early diagnosis of a disease, which has resulted in a huge economic burden owing to the large patient pool that get diagnosed at late pathological stages of cancer. In such a scenario, liquid biopsies offer a minimally invasive and cost-efficient alternative for early diagnosis of cancers along with the potential for continuous patient monitoring during the course of a treatment.
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