Changes in the levels of circulating nucleic acids are associated with certain disease conditions and could be useful for clinical applications, particularly for cancer patients and pregnant women. Significant research effort is being focused on developing clinical research reagents for prenatal disorders and malignant disease monitoring using DNA recovered from cell-free fluids. Cell free DNA (cfDNA) is a sample type of choice due to its quick, very minimally-invasive method of collection that is amenable to analyzing multiple time points and multiple samples at a time when compared to more time-intensive, invasive methods such as tumor biopsy/fine-needle aspiration in cancer or chorionic villus sampling (CVS), or amniocentesis in prenatal testing research. Additional benefits for the use of cfDNA for oncology and other disorders include the provision of a big picture, real time snapshot of a comprehensive disease state and an intra-tumor heterogeneity profile at the time of detection and at relapse or metastasis, as opposed to what a local biopsy may offer.
Circulating DNA can be highly fragmented and present at low concentrations, especially in healthy individuals, which may pose a number of challenges that need to be overcome to achieve reliable for cfDNA extraction. This has led to a need for more efficient methods for extracting, processing, and analyzing cell-free DNA (cfDNA). To meet this need, PerkinElmer has developed a complete, automated workflow for extracting cfDNA and performing subsequent next generation sequencing applications.
Cell-free RNA (cfRNA) also naturally occurs in cell free fluids. Cell-free circulating tumor RNA, or cfRNA shed from tumor cells, may mediate intercellular communication and may be used as biomarkers for the screening or diagnosis of diseases like cancer and the monitoring of therapy.
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