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Integrated platform for liquid biopsy-based personalized cancer medicine

Dr Kamran Honarnejad, Fraunhofer ITEM; Dr Stefan Kirsch, Fraunhofer ITEM; Prof. Christoph Klein, University of Regensburg and Fraunhofer ITEM; Dr Bernhard Polzer, Fraunhofer ITEM; Dr Christian Werno, Fraunhofer ITEM



Currently, one in four deaths is caused by cancer – mainly a result of metastatic disease spread. As genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity are the basis for the evolution and adaptation of cancer cells during the course of the disease novel innovative assays for early detection, monitoring and individualized therapy of systemic cancer are urgently needed.


Fraunhofer ITEM in Regensburg has special expertise in the comprehensive characterization of single cancer cells. These can be collected as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) by taking ordinary blood samples (also referred to as “liquid biopsy”) from patients, or they can be isolated from lymph node tissue, cerebrospinal fluid or bone marrow as disseminated cancer cells (DCCs). Our expertise also includes the analysis of cell-free, tumor-derived blood components (circulating tumor-DNA, microvesicles) and innovative tissue-based analytical methods (tissue biopsy).

With our expert knowledge in the fields of cellular and molecular diagnostics, innovative technologies and biomarkers, innovative model systems, and high-throughput screening technologies, we work on a broad variety of topics in the fields of liquid biopsy and rare cell populations. Our in-house data management and comprehensive bioinformatics enable custom-fit analysis of the generated data.

Commercial Opportunity

Fraunhofer ITEM in Regensburg is committed to doing research on metastatic disease, to understanding a patient’s individual condition, to establishing appropriate diagnostics, and to advancing prevention and therapy optimization. We provide high expertise in the handling of low-input samples down to single cells with access to a broad range of methods, customized solutions and validated test systems. Our direct access to a sample bank generated from single CTCs and DCCs of patients with different tumor entities allows comprehensive biomarker research, target validation, high-throughput drug screens for discovery of effective personalized therapies in patient-derived preclinical models. In addition many samples correlation with clinical follow-up can be established.

Development Status

Infrastructure and technologies for R&D projects are well-established, integrating in-house sequencing and high-throughput screening platforms as well as bioinformatics units. The constant supply of samples from our network of clinical partners is ideally suited for the development of new preclinical models for personalized drug response screens and the perfect environment for translational research within clinical studies.

Patent Situation

Patent pending, WO/2015/118077

Further Reading


Integrated platform for liquid biopsy-based personalized cancer medicine

Comprehensive liquid biopsy concept at Fraunhofer ITEM in Regensburg, depicting the workflow of isolation, detection and analysis of circulating tumor cells (CTC) and disseminated tumor cells (DTC), combined single cell genome and transcriptome analysis, in vitro/in vivo expansion of CTC and DTC followed by high-throughput drug screens for discovery of effective personalized therapies in patient-derived preclinical models in a certified laboratory environment.