In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Dr. Neus Feliu Torres talks about the process of liquid biopsies and how using nanotechnologies would improve breast cancer diagnosis.
What is the goal of the LIBIMEDOTS project?
Dr. Neus Feliu Torres: LIBIMEDOTS project aims to develop efficient and gentle methods (non-invasive) for the diagnosis of breast cancer based on blood samples. In the project, we are using nanotechnology as an emerging technology and promising alternative method. For that, different magnetic and fluorescent nanoparticles are developed to specifically enrich and detect tumor circulating cells in the blood in a highly sensitive and affine manner. The benefits of using nanoparticles for biosensing include high sensitivity, specificity, detectability, quick analysis, low cost, easy bioconjugation, and the prospective for portability (point-of-care testing) and personalized medicine. Within this project, we collaborate with scientists from Catalan Rovira i Virgili University (Prof Ramon Alvarez-Puebla, expert in the development of optical biological sensors and data mining), Hamburg University (Prof Wolfgang Parak, expert in nanoparticle synthesis and biological applications), and the Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (Prof Klaus Pantel, leading expert on liquid biopsies).
What would be the advantages of a liquid biopsy compared to conventional biopsies?
Feliu Torres: Conventionally, a cancer diagnosis is secured by tissue biopsy and immunohistochemical analysis. This involves taking a sample of the cancerous tissue or cells. Tissue biopsies are invasive, time-consuming, costly, painful, potentially risky, or sometimes even not feasible for patients. Furthermore, they cannot track the disease status and progression in real time. In contrast, liquid biopsies are not afflicted with these drawbacks, they do not examine tumor tissue directly. Instead, liquid biopsy aims to detect tumor markers in body fluids noninvasive. They are quick, less expensive, and exhibit the possibility to monitor cancer over time (due to repeat sampling), allowing personalized medicine.