Research ArticleCancer

Enhanced detection of circulating tumor DNA by fragment size analysis

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Science Translational Medicine  07 Nov 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 466, eaat4921
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aat4921

Sizing up circulating tumor DNA

Unlike solid tumors, which are often hidden deep within a patient’s body, a patient’s blood is easy to access safely. As a result, liquid biopsy, the analysis of tumor DNA in the blood, is an attractive alternative to conventional biopsy. Unfortunately, tumor DNA molecules are usually vastly outnumbered by the fragments of noncancer DNA in the blood, and detecting them can be a challenge, especially in early stages of cancer. Mouliere et al. identified characteristic differences in the size distribution of tumor-derived and noncancer DNA fragments and then used these observations to design a method of tumor DNA detection with greater sensitivity.