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A very exciting PhD research project has started at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. CRUK Clinical research fellow, Dr Alicia Conway, is to test the hypothesis that liquid biomarkers, including but not limited to ctDNA, circulating tumours cells (CTCs) and tumour educated blood platelets, can be used to detect tissue of origin and molecular subtypes in patients with carcinoma of unknown primary and to direct therapy.
Manchester leads the way in the UK in the rapidly developing field of liquid biopsies. For a CUP patent of the future this might provide a minimally invasive alternative to tissue biopsies with the significant advantages of serial acquisition to assess tumour resistance and mutations through treatment.
‘My project will investigate the role of liquid biopsies, including but not limited to CTCs and ctDNA, to detect tissue of origin and molecular subtypes in patients with CUP to direct therapy. I will assess not only the molecular aberrations of CUP but also the epigenetic patterns of these tumours. I will also examine the role of the immune microenvironment of CUP to determine if immunotherapy may be a potential treatment option for subsets of CUP patients.’