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Perhaps no other topic defines the content of Clinical Chemistry in 2020 better than liquid biopsy. Authors have produced a steady stream of articles in this area, noted Nader Rifai, PhD, the journal’s editor-in-chief. “It is literally one of the hottest areas in cancer molecular diagnostics,” he told CLN Stat. In January, liquid biopsy featured as a major subject area in the Clinical Chemistry special issue on molecular diagnostics.

Building on the popularity of this topic, the session Clinical Chemistry’s Hot Topics of 2020 (33112) at the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo highlights technological advancements in liquid biopsy that could improve the diagnosis and management of cancer patients. Two presenters, Kenneth Kinzler, PhD, and Klaus Pantel, MD, PhD, plan to compare and contrast the clinical utility and implementation of testing based on cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and on circulating tumor cells (CTC). According to Rifai, Kinzler and Pantel are “two of the most prominent scientists in this field from both sides of the Atlantic.”

Kinzler, a professor of oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, will discuss tumor DNA as a clinical biomarker for earlier detection of cancer. Pantel, founder and chairman of the Institute of Tumor Biology at the Medical School of the University of Hamburg in Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, follows up with a talk on the detection, biology, and clinical applications of CTCs.

Both cfDNA and CTCs can provide complementary information depending on the tumor type, stage of disease, and clinical objective of the study, Pantel told CLN Stat. “Druggable mutations (e.g., in EGFR, KRAS, or BRAF genes) can be detected on cfDNA and CTCs, while transcriptional plasticity leading to resistance to therapy (e.g., expression of androgen receptor variant 7 in prostate cancer) can be only assessed on CTCs,” he said. Additionally, single cell CTC analysis can reveal important information on intra-patient tumor heterogeneity.

Attendees can expect a comprehensive and timely overview of the technical challenges and clinical applications of cfDNA and CTCs and other complementary liquid biopsy markers, “including a description of the rocky road from biomarker discovery to clinical implementation in oncology,” added Pantel.

Clinical Chemistry’s Hot Topics of 2020 (33112) will take place December 15 from 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time at the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo. This scientific session is worth 1.5 ACCENT credit hours.