Biomarkers and Liquid Biopsy


We are undertaking work across multiple cancer types, with the goal of identifying new biomarkers, to stratify patients and predict responses to treatment. The use of non-invasive liquid biopsy tests enables us to most effectively select experimental Precision Medicine studies matched to each patient’s genomic mutations, or to plan for ongoing treatment. 

This approach currently encompasses our key research areas of non small cell lung cancer, where we are analysing ctDNA from liquid biopsies of patients recruited to the National Lung Matrix Trial (NLMT), and colorectal cancer for the STAR TREC and Foxtrot surgical studies.

Novel genomics facilitating personalisation

ECMC Theme Lead Professor Andrew Beggs’ Genomics Birmingham laboratory plays a leading national role in developments within cancer genomics. They use novel technologies to support genomic, transcriptomic and epigenetic based research. Their expertise has come to the fore during the COVID 19 pandemic, developing and validating novel COVID testing technologies.

Genomics Birmingham has recently undertaken beta testing of the Trusight 500 panel, which has been selected as the large pan cancer panel for the West Midlands, Oxford and Wessex Genomics Laboratory Hub (GLH), and thus as the NHS Standard of Care panel. The outcomes of this testing were published in Molecular Diagnosis and Therapy in April 2020. The paper was the highest-cited one in the journal that year.

Drawing on the expertise and genomics capabilities of our project partners at the GLH, enables us to access novel technologies, to the benefit of our patients.  

Novel cancer detection technologies

Led by Dr Rik Bryan, the Birmingham-hosted Bladder Cancer Research Centre seeks to identify diagnostic and prognostic bladder cancer biomarkers utilising proteomic approaches and biospecimens from the Bladder Cancer Prognosis Programme (BCPP). They have partnered with Nonacus to produce a urine test for bladder cancer that could spare thousands of people invasive procedures. It uses Nonacus’ highly-sensitive DNA sensing technology to detect a set of unique DNA mutations found in the majority of bladder cancers.

ECMC Theme lead: Andrew Beggs is a Professor of Cancer Genetics & Surgery in the University’s Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences and Consultant Colorectal & General Surgeon at University Hospitals Birmingham. Andrew founded and leads Genomics Birmingham laboratory. He is Research Director for Cancer in the NHS South and Central Genomic Medicine Service Alliance.