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About Liquid Biopsy


Circulating free DNA (cfDNA) are degraded DNA fragments released to the blood plasma after diseased or normal cells die. cfDNA can be used to describe various forms of DNA freely circulating the bloodstream, including circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA)  and cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA)  , and therefore, has become a biomarker for cancer and fetal medicine. In addition, it can be used for a wide range of conditions, including sepsis, aseptic inflammation, transplantation, etc. 

A liquid biopsy is the sampling and analysis of non-solid biological tissue, primarily blood, often utilizing cfDNA as a biomarker. A liquid biopsy has unleashed the potential to track and monitor important diseases, such as cancer, in a non-invasive and more effective manner.

Extensive scientific research has shown liquid biopsy to have important advantageous properties for clinical utility (e.g., most recently 1-4). Therefore, it has been named as a top breakthrough technology that will disrupt healthcare especially for cancer by the World Economic Forum (2017) 5, Forbes (2016) 6, and MIT Technology Review (2015) 7.

Apostle MiniMax Technology

cfDNA is present in very small amounts in the blood plasma. Apostle develops a best-in-class technique 8-20, Apostle MiniMax TM, to efficiently capture this cfDNA from a standard blood draw, as well as other innovations in the space of liquid biopsy. We aim to improve the efficiency and accuracy of liquid biopsy, and consequently, improve the survival rate of patients.


[About Liquid Biopsy]

  1. Liquid versus tissue biopsy for detecting acquired resistance and tumor heterogeneity in gastrointestinal cancers. Parikh et al.  Nature Medicine. 25, 1415–1421 (2019)
  2. Genome-wide cell-free DNA fragmentation in patients with cancer. Cristiano et al.  Nature. 570, 385–389 (2019)
  3. Detection and localization of surgically resectable cancers with a multi-analyte blood test. Cohen et al. Science. 359, 926-930 (2018)
  4. Sensitive tumour detection and classification using plasma cell-free DNA methylomes. Shen et al. Nature. 563, 579–583 (2018)
  5. These are the top 10 emerging technologies of 2017. World Economic Forum. Jun 26, 2017
  6. Five Technologies That Will Disrupt Healthcare By 2020. Forbes. Mar 30, 2016
  7. 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2015. MIT Technology Review. 2015

[About Apostle technologies] 
Apostle technologies have been discussed or cited in the following publications:

  1. Cell-Free DNA Isolation Kit. Science. 17 May 2019:Vol. 364, Issue 6441, pp. 696. DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6441.696-a. (Featured in New Products section) 
  2. Enrichment of cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) from maternal plasma on a nanotechnology platform. Zhang et al. Manuscript under review.
  3. A complete automation and reagent workflow for analysis of cfDNA: from plasma to variants. Roseman N, Parakh S, Lai K, Sheu J, Wei H, Niccum B, Chen T, Huang H, Barnes T, Lewis L, Chakravarty UD, and Potts A. Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT).  (abstract #511). Marco Island, FL. Feb 23-26, 2020
  4. G3viz: an R package to interactively visualize genetic mutation data using a lollipop-diagram. Xin G, Bo Z, Wenqi Z, et al. Bioinformatics. 2020; 36(3):928–929, 
  5. Correlation between mutations found in FFPE tumor tissue and paired cfDNA samples. Niccum B., Heath C., Saunders L., Hur A.,Patel A. Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP). (abstract #ST103). Baltimore, MD. November 7-9, 2019
  6. Dynamics of Plasma EGFR T790M Mutation in Advanced NSCLC: A Multicenter Study. Yang et al. Targeted Oncology. 2019;14:719-728. Published: 06 November 2019.
  7. Correlation between mutations found in FFPE tumor tissue and paired cfDNA samples. (n=8) Niccum B., Saunders L., Hur A.,Patel A.  The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). (abstract #1766). Houston, TX. Oct 15, 2019
  8. Comparison between mutation profiles of paired whole blood and cfDNA samples. Patel A., Saunders L., Hur A. The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). (abstract #1767). Houston, TX. Oct 15, 2019
  9. Isolation of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from plasma using Apostle MiniMaxTM High Efficiency cfDNA Isolation kit—comparison of fully automated, semi-automated and manual workflow processing. Brittany Niccum, PhD., Randy Pares and Antonia Hur. Beckman Coulter Life Sciences. Application Note. Sept 2019. 
  10. A workflow for medium-throughput isolation of cfDNA from plasma samples using Apostle MiniMaxTM on the KingFisherTM Technology. Brittany Niccum, PhD. Beckman Coulter Life Sciences. Application Note. 2019. 
  11. Correlation between mutations found in FFPE tumor tissue and paired cfDNA samples. (n=3) Saunders L and Patel A. American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). (abstract #2233). Atlanta, GA. April 2, 2019
  12. A new Scalable and automatable method for the extration of cfDNA. Saunders LP, Hur A, Niccum B, and Patel A. Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT). (abstract #419). Marco Island, FL. Feb 28, 2019
  13. cfDNA Extraction from Plasma for Liquid Biopsy: Apostle MiniMaxTM High Efficiency cfDNA Isolation Kit. Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, Data Sheet. 2019.

With the help of Apostle MiniMax cfDNA Isolation Technology, a recent clinical study demonstrated the clinical validity of the circulating cell-free DNA for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) detection with high sensitivity and specificity, published in Science Translational Medicine.