News Release

Novel assay shows promise for non-invasive detection of PD-L1 on circulating tumor cells

Researchers have presented the first report of a new microfluidics-based approach for detecting circulating cancer biomarkers in blood samples

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Future Science Group

Future Science Group (FSG) today announced the publication of an article in Future Science OA presenting early data from a novel assay for the non-invasive detection of PD-L1 and other biomarkers in patient blood samples.

Response rates to immunotherapies targeting the PD-1 pathway vary, and efforts are ongoing to improve the discovery of those who will and will not benefit from such therapies. Expression of PD-L1, among other biomarkers, is associated with response; however, owing to tumor heterogeneity and the fact this biomarker is not static, biopsies are not suitable. Furthermore, biopsies are invasive and unsuitable for repeated testing.

Novel research from an international team led by Jinkai Teo (Merck Research Laboratories, Singapore) sought to solve this problem using peripheral blood samples, and a less-invasive approach.

Whole blood from both healthy donors and breast cancer patients underwent circulating tumor cell enrichment and was loaded onto a microfluidic chip, undergoing chipcytometry.

The results demonstrated that the workflow had a mean detection rate of 22.8%, and could determine PD-L1 and PD-L2 expression levels.

"We believe the main advantages of chipcytometry lie in the iterative staining process that allows retrospective evaluation of additional markers and the potential to measure a large number of parameters without the spillover/compensation problems encountered with flow cytometry," commented the authors. "This approach allows the analysis of additional immunomodulatory targets on tumor cells beyond PD-L1 and PD-L2, which is particularly critical, considering high dimensional analysis of these markers is likely to become increasingly relevant as immunotherapy moves beyond the administration of single immunomodulatory agents toward combinations that synergize in their antitumor immune response."

Furthermore, the potential to include more positive or negative markers could allow increased confidence that identified cells are CTCs.

However, the authors note that these data are preliminary, and further experimentation is needed to fully establish feasibility of the approach.


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About Future Science OA

Launched in March 2015, Future Science OA is the inaugural gold open access journal from Future Science Group. It publishes articles covering research of application to human health, and utilizes a CC-BY license. Future Science OA embraces the importance of publishing all good-quality research with the potential to further the progress of medical science. Both negative and early-phase research is considered. The journal also features review articles, editorials and perspectives, providing readers with a leading source of commentary and analysis. More open access oncology research can be found at

About Future Science Group

Founded in 2001, Future Science Group (FSG) is a progressive publisher focused on breakthrough medical, biotechnological, and scientific research. FSG's portfolio includes two imprints, Future Science and Future Medicine. Both publish eBooks and journals. In addition to this core publishing business FSG develops specialist eCommunities. Key titles and sites include Bioanalysis Zone, Epigenomics, Nanomedicine and the award-winning Regenerative Medicine. The aim of FSG is to service the advancement of clinical practice and drug research by enhancing the efficiency of communications among clinicians, researchers and decision-makers, and by providing innovative solutions to their information needs. This is achieved through a customer-centric approach, use of new technologies, products that deliver value-for-money and uncompromisingly high standards.

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