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Use of liquid biopsies as cancer biomarkers


Ovarian cancer (OC) affects over 65,500 women every year in Europe alone, and within five years 70% will die. It is the 2nd most common gynaecological cancer, just behind breast cancer, and the 6th leading cause of death in women. Throughout the European countries €1.86 billion are spent treating OC patients with most cost occurring in the final weeks of life. OC is known as the “silent killer” as it causes no symptoms in the early stages so is difficult to detect.

Even when advanced, the symptoms are very vague. Recurrent OC (ROC) is where this cancer has come back after patients have had their first treatments (usually surgery and chemotherapy. Up to 90% of patients with OC will relapse/recur, some within a few months of initial treatment others many years later. It is not clear why there is this variation in relapse.

Research based on cancer cells in the blood, such as Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs) has generated much interest, opening the potential to a `Liquid Biopsy' option, as an alternative to a conventional tissue biopsy; thus allowing a better routine monitoring system, and robust genetic characterisation of the cancer.

CTCs are cells that invade into the bloodstream from the primary tumours in the abdominal cavity. These cells are different to normal circulating blood cells and express tumour-specific characteristics. CTCs are of prognostic value in various cancers, but the value of CTCs in ovarian cancer is still under investigation.

The concept of tumour and cancer profiling from blood components is an exciting field, opening the potential to solve many issues currently surrounding cancer diagnosis/prognosis and treatment. At CBCEL we have teamed up with numerous hospitals to study the clinical benefits of liquid biopsies.

The aim of this project is to develop a practical, inexpensive and reliable method for identifying and quantifying CTCs, isolating them and extracting RNA for genetic analysis.  The examination of the genetic material of the ovary cancer CTCs will help us understand what changes might be occurring.  We then will be in a position to exploit these changes and introduce tailored treatments. 

The provision of a valid test will provide enormous benefit to the healthcare system and patients since identification of biomarkers from a blood test to assess response to therapies for ROC patients will reduce the number of scans they require.  It will also allow the detection of ineffective treatment earlier, minimising toxic effects from futile treatments.  


1: Chudasama et al. Prognostic value of the DNA integrity index in patients with malignant lung tumors. Oncotarget. 2018 Apr 20;9(30):21281-21288.

2: Chudasama D et al. Identification of cancer biomarkers of prognostic value using specific gene regulatory networks (GRN): a novel role of RAD51AP1 for ovarian and lung cancers. Carcinogenesis. 2018 Mar 8;39(3):407-417.

3: Chudasama et al. Perioperative detection of circulating tumour cells in patients with lung cancer. Oncol Lett. 2017 Aug;14(2):1281-1286.

4: Chudasama et al. Inertia based microfluidic capture and characterisation of circulating tumour cells for the diagnosis of lung cancer. Ann Transl Med. 2016 Dec; 4(24):480.

5: Rogers-Broadway et al. Differential effects of rapalogues, dual kinase inhibitors on human ovarian carcinoma cells in vitro. Int J Oncol. 2016 Jul;49(1):133-43.

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Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Emmanouil Karteris
Dr Emmanouil Karteris - Dr Manos Karteris graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Medical Biochemistry from the University of Surrey in 1995. He then was awarded an MSc with Distinction in Medical Genetics with Immunology from Brunel University London in 1996 and completed his PhD in Molecular Endocrinology from the University of Warwick in 2000. He then undertook post-doctoral appointments at the University of Warwick, including a prestigious VIP Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust. He was appointed as Lecturer in Endocrinology at the University of Warwick from 2005-2006 and then he transferred to Brunel University London as a Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences in June 2006. Currently he is a Reader in the Division of Biomedical Sciences. Dr Karteris is the Departmental Director International.

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Project last modified 21/11/2023