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Home » Supporting the NHS » Why CTCs and liquid biopsies could one day revolutionise NHS cancer care

Anne-Sophie Pailhes-Jimenez

R&D Director, ANGLE

Circulating tumour cells are tumour cells shed from the primary tumour and now circulate in the bloodstream. They carry core information and could improve cancer care for NHS patients in the future.

Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) can help clinicians diagnose cancer and identify tumour characteristics, potentially leading to targeted treatment. However, CTCs are hard to isolate.  

Difficulty capturing and harvesting circulating tumour cells  

Liquid biopsy company ANGLE specialises in harvesting CTCs with a simple blood test using advanced technology. They provide testing services for clinical and pharmaceutical research and are participating in a global study on potential clinical uses of CTCs in cancer patient management. They utilise liquid biopsy to harvest CTCs from a patient’s blood — rather than a solid tissue biopsy — for analysis.  

Anne-Sophie Pailhes-Jimenez, the company’s R&D Director in Europe, explains: “Studying circulating tumour cells is challenging because the quantity of cells you can measure is potentially quite low. 

“There is no other technology on the market that is as advanced as ANGLE’s at capturing and harvesting those cells with the potential to guide clinicians on patient management.” 

Liquid biopsy has the potential to transform
treatment decisions for cancer patients.

Advantages of liquid biopsy over tissue biopsy 

Liquid biopsy has the potential to transform treatment decisions for cancer patients as it enables repeat, non-invasive biopsies for diagnosis and monitoring of cancer.  

With traditional tissue biopsy, as many as 31% of patients lack accessible tissue. It also increases the cost of patient care and turnaround time for results. Pailhes-Jimenez explains: “Where a tissue biopsy can be done once — maybe twice — this blood test can occur whenever the clinician needs it.” It can also provide valuable, complementary information to traditional solid tissue biopsy.  

“Our study in longitudinal monitoring aims to provide real-time information, so clinicians can see what’s happening in the tumour; for example, whether the tumour is responding to the treatment. This helps to predict a patient’s response to treatment — and to improve their survival prognostic,” she adds.  

Studying uses for CTCs and optimising care  

ANGLE’s thousand-patient clinical study includes patients in the UK and USA. “Our preliminary focus is on breast cancer, and we have US-FDA clearance for a CTC platform for metastatic breast cancer. We are also looking at other cancer types such as prostate, ovarian and lung cancer,” says Pailhes-Jimenez. 

The study aims to prove whether CTCs can provide clinicians with more information to put patients on the right treatment path without long waits. She adds: “We hope to help produce a faster and most personalised medicine that complements existing patient management.” If successful, CTCs could make cancer care in the UK more accessible and reduce NHS waiting times.  

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