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Dr. Villanueva on Challenges For Liquid Biopsies in HCC

Augusto Villanueva, MD, PhD
Published: Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018



Augusto Villanueva, MD, PhD, assistant professor, Icahn School of Medicine, discusses remaining challenges with liquid biopsies in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

The first issue lies in the technology itself, Villanueva says. There have been recent studies suggesting that circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) can be technologically challenging to detect, and this is something oncologists have to address. Researchers know ctDNA is present, but the tools they currently utilize require more development. Villanueva says there needs to be a “huge effort” in terms of improving and standardizing the techniques of liquid biopsies.

The second challenge is that more data are needed to indicate that liquid biopsies actually improve outcomes for patients in the long run. More biomarkers are needed to predict a patient’s response to a certain therapy. Liquid biopsies can help oncologists understand the tumor profile, but that still isn’t a guarantee that treatment will be effective. The promise of liquid biopsies is there, but the potentially practice-changing nature of this technology remains to be seen.


Augusto Villanueva, MD, PhD, assistant professor, Icahn School of Medicine, discusses remaining challenges with liquid biopsies in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

The first issue lies in the technology itself, Villanueva says. There have been recent studies suggesting that circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) can be technologically challenging to detect, and this is something oncologists have to address. Researchers know ctDNA is present, but the tools they currently utilize require more development. Villanueva says there needs to be a “huge effort” in terms of improving and standardizing the techniques of liquid biopsies.

The second challenge is that more data are needed to indicate that liquid biopsies actually improve outcomes for patients in the long run. More biomarkers are needed to predict a patient’s response to a certain therapy. Liquid biopsies can help oncologists understand the tumor profile, but that still isn’t a guarantee that treatment will be effective. The promise of liquid biopsies is there, but the potentially practice-changing nature of this technology remains to be seen.

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