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Extracellular Vesicles and Circulating Tumour Cells - complementary liquid biopsies or standalone concepts?


Authors: Artur Słomka, Bingduo Wang, Tudor Mocan, Adelina Horhat, Arnulf G Willms, Ingo G H Schmidt-Wolf, Christian P Strassburg, Maria A Gonzalez-Carmona, Veronika Lukacs-Kornek, Miroslaw T Kornek

Liquid biopsies do promise a lot, but are they keeping it? In the past decade, additional novel biomarkers qualified to be called like that, of which, some took necessary hurdles resulting in FDA approval and clinical use. Some others are since a while around, well known and were once regarded to be a game changer in cancer diagnosis or cancer screening. But, during their clinical use limitations were observed from statistical significance and questions raised regarding their robustness, that eventually led to be dropped from associated clinical guidelines for certain applications including cancer diagnosis. The purpose of this review isn't to give a broad overview of all current liquid biopsy as biomarkers, weight them and promise a brighter future in cancer prevention, but rather to take a deeper look on two of those who do qualify to be called liquid biopsies now or then. These two are probably of greatest interest conceptually and methodically, and likely have the highest chances to be in clinical use soon, with a portfolio extension over their original conceptual usage. We aim to dig deeper beyond cancer diagnosis or cancer screening. Actually, we aim to review in depth extracellular vesicles (EVs) and compare with circulating tumour cells (CTCs). The latter methodology is partially FDA approved and in clinical use. We will lay out similarities as taking advantage of surface antigens on EVs and CTCs in case of characterization and quantification. But drawing readers' attention to downstream application based on capture/isolation methodology and simply on their overall nature, here apparently being living material eventually recoverable as CTCs are vs. dead material with transient effects on recipient cell as in case of EVs. All this we try to bring in perspective, compare and conclude towards which future direction we are aiming for, or should aim for. Do we announce a winner between CTCs vs EVs? No, but we provide good reasons to intensify research on them.

© The author(s).

PMID: 35966579

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