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A Closer Look at Liquid Biopsy: Background, Key Players & Market Opportunity

Insight by , and

The Cowen Insight

Liquid biopsies represent a nascent approach to cancer detection and monitoring. New technologies and increased research focus are building confidence in the outlook for true clinical applications. Many hurdles remain, but commercially viable clinical products could approach the market by the end of the decade. Market opportunity could exceed $10B annually. However, standardization needs to increase and technical challenges still abound.

Potential to Overcome Limitations of Current Biopsy Approaches

Traditional biopsies are difficult, uncomfortable, and may therefore miss certain cancers. On the other hand, liquid biopsies are non-invasive, easy to collect, and have the potential to detect a cancer throughout the body. Furthermore, the serial testing feature of liquid biopsies offers a unique ability for clinicians to comprehensively track disease status throughout treatment. It also provides them the opportunity to adjust treatment, if necessary.

Technical Hurdles Still Abound; Lack of Consensus on Approach

Although the outlook is promising, the liquid biopsy field has significant technical and clinical hurdles to overcome. Technical challenges include sensitivity and specificity issues due to current isolation, enumeration, and enrichment methods. Furthermore, the diversity of approaches has obscured the path to clinical adoption. Standardization is necessary to ensure a clear direction and future success.

Clinical & Product Development Gaining Momentum

Several exciting commercial products are being developed using cell-free nucleic acids or circulating tumor cells to diagnose cancer. Innovative approaches include cytometry, microfluidics, targeted panels, and whole genome sequencing. Companies in the space range from large players to emerging players to smaller start-ups.

Huge Potential Market Opportunity

The applicability of a non-invasive cancer diagnostic and monitoring tool is immense. Although the current field is somewhat nascent, liquid biopsies have a multi-billion dollar market potential that could eventually exceed $10B. Moreover, this estimate does not include the additional market potential for adjacent tests, instruments, and applications.

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