Liquid biopsy: a powerful emerging tool for cancer care

Extracted from: Liquid Biopsy: From Isolation to Downstream Applications 2018 report, Yole Développement, June 2018


  • Liquid biopsy: a powerful emerging tool for cancer car and a huge business opportunity.
  • An impressive range of companies and business models.
  • Technological breakthroughs are driven by microfluidic technologies.

LYON, France – June 7, 2018: Liquid biopsy has the potential to assist at every stage of cancer care, saving lives and cutting healthcare costs. Business opportunities are huge. Associated market is already large and growing extremely fast. In its latest technology & market report, Liquid Biopsy: From Isolation to Downstream Applications, Yole Développement (Yole) announces, the liquid biopsy market will grow from US$1.7 billion in 2017 to US$7.8B by 2023. CAGR during this period reaches 29%. This market includes hardware (systems and devices) and reagent kit sales, along with service revenue, for CTC , ctDNA and exosomes applications.
Liquid Biopsy report from Yole provides a comprehensive overview of liquid biopsy testing, definitions, and why it is used. It is a valuable market analysis of M&A , collaborations, fundraisings and business models. Technical and biological requirements, product examples, key players, market share, and technology trends are also well detailed in this analysis. Yole’s analysts propose a detailed description of the market’s main players with the related supply chain and the technologies involved.
Cancer is a rising concern in modern society. Numerous drivers contribute to the increase of cancer cases, such as ageing of the population, lifestyle, and environment.
Asma Siari, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole delivered a relevant presentation focused on liquid biopsy methods at LOAC Europe this week. Asma revealed a significant overview of this emerging market with technical challenges and possible evolutions.
How is liquid biopsy modifying cancer care pathways? Who is leading this emerging industry? What are the business opportunities? Could we expect impressive technical breakthroughs? The market research and strategy consulting company, Yole invites you to discover a new innovative medical procedure, that could change cancer care.

According to the World Health Organization, cancer is responsible for one in six deaths worldwide, and one in two people are likely to develop cancer in their lifetime. Cancer cells are cells whose genes have mutated; in order to understand each cancer’s mechanisms and determine the appropriate treatment, these tumors require analysis. Traditional biopsy methods involve obtaining a piece of the tumor through invasive surgery. However, these procedures are expensive and exhausting for the patient. They cannot be also reproduced regularly in order to monitor a cancer’s evolution and treatment efficiency over time.
Today it is possible to avoid such invasive procedures thanks to a “liquid biopsy”. Indeed, it is possible to collect a simple blood draw in which relevant biomarkers can provide useful information about the patient’s cancer. In particular, a number of companies are developing technologies to collect, isolate, and analyze ctDNA (DNA molecules shed by cancerous cells) and CTCs (Tumor cells shed from the original tumor) that spread into the bloodstream.
“Thanks to these tools, it is possible to not only diagnose cancer non-invasively,” explains Dr. Marjorie Villien, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. “It is also possible to understand the molecular mechanisms associated with each patient, choose and develop a tailored treatment, monitor the treatment’s efficiency along with drug resistance, and screen for disease recurrence.” Some companies are even working on screening for early detection, although this is a more long-term application.

Studying mutations in cancer cells’ DNA is not an easy task, and requires many different tools and skills. From the enrichment and analysis of biomarkers to the bioinformatics analysis of mutation profiles, the path is long and many players are involved.
In the Liquid Biopsy report, Yole’s analysts confirm the role of each player at each level of the supply chain. They explains who is specialized in which step, and details where the value lies. The development of liquid biopsy is boosting downstream analysis equipment markets like sequencing and digital PCR, announces Yole in this report. Difference and complementarity of ctDNA and CTCs is also well analyzed by Yole’s Life Sciences and Healthcare team. Today CTC has yet to attract significant funding.
“ctDNA companies have raised more than US$3.7 billion since 2010, while CTC companies have only raised around US$280 million,”
asserts Sébastien Clerc, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole.
In terms of revenue, the split is also unbalanced in favor of ctDNA companies. This is primarily due to business models: most ctDNA companies offer testing services in their Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) labs, performing tests developed in-house which do not require FDA clearance. Moreover, DNA is easier to transport and store than live cells, which is another advantage for ctDNA. On the contrary, most CTC companies are developing instruments that are directly sold to end-users, along with the associated consumables. However, most of these instruments for CTC isolation are still for research use only because the FDA requires more evidence of the benefits derived from analyzing CTCs in patients’ survival rate, before approving them for clinical use. This explains, at least partially, why CTC companies are lagging behind in terms of revenue. Thankfully, this situation may soon change thanks to advances in technology and to the increasing number of published works proving the clinical value of CTC analysis: in fact, a complete live cell can carry much more information than a DNA strand.

A full description of this report is available on, medtech reports section.

CAGR : Compound Annual Growth Rate
CTC : Circulating Tumor Cell
ctDNA:circulating tumor DNA
M&A : mergers & acquisitions
FDA : Food and Drug Administration

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