dPCR application in liquid biopsies: divide and conquer.
Moreno-Manuel A., Calabuig-Fariñas S., Obrador-Hevia A., Blasco A., Fernández-Díaz A., Sirera R., Camps C., Jantus-Lewintre E.
Introduction: Precision medicine is already a reality in oncology, since biomarker-driven therapies have clearly improved patient survival. Furthermore, a new, minimally invasive strategy termed 'liquid biopsy' (LB) has revolutionized the field by allowing comprehensive cancer genomic profiling through the analysis of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). However, its detection requires extremely sensitive and efficient technologies. A powerful molecular tool based on the principle of 'divide and conquer' has emerged to solve this problem. Thus, digital PCR (dPCR) allows absolute and accurate quantification of target molecules.Areas covered: In this review we will discuss the fundamentals of dPCR and the most common approaches used for partition of samples and quantification. The advantages and limitations of dPCR will be mentioned in the context of LB in oncology.Expert opinion: In our opinion, dPCR has proven to be one of the most sensitive methods available for LB analysis, albeit some aspects such as its capacity of multiplexing and protocol standardization still require further improvements. Furthermore, the increasing sensitivities and lower costs of next generation sequencing (NGS) methods position dPCR as a confirmatory and complementary technique for NGS results which will likely prove to be very useful for treatment monitoring and assessing minimal residual disease.