Microfluidic-based technologies in cancer liquid biopsy: Unveiling the role of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) materials Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Liquid biopsy includes the isolating and analysis of non-solid biological samples enables us to find new ways for molecular profiling, prognostic assessment, and better therapeutic decision-making in cancer patients. Despite the conventional theory of tumor development, a non-vertical transmission of DNA has been reported among cancer cells and between cancer and normal cells. The phenomenon referred to as horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has the ability to amplify the advancement of tumors by disseminating genes that encode molecules conferring benefits to the survival or metastasis of cancer cells. Currently, common liquid biopsy approaches include the analysis of extracellular vesicles (EVs) and tumor-free DNA (tfDNA) derived from primary tumors and their metastatic sites, which are well-known HGT mediators in cancer cells. Current technological and molecular advances expedited the high-throughput and high-sensitive HGT materials analyses by using new technologies, such as microfluidics in liquid biopsies. This review delves into the convergence of microfluidic-based technologies and the investigation of Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) materials in cancer liquid biopsy. The integration of microfluidics offers unprecedented advantages such as high sensitivity, rapid analysis, and the ability to analyze rare cell populations. These attributes are instrumental in detecting and characterizing CTCs, circulating nucleic acids, and EVs, which are carriers of genetic cargo that could potentially undergo HGT. The phenomenon of HGT in cancer has raised intriguing questions about its role in driving genomic diversity and acquired drug resistance. By leveraging microfluidic platforms, researchers have been able to capture and analyze individual cells or genetic material with enhanced precision, shedding light on the potential transfer of genetic material between cancer cells and surrounding stromal cells. Furthermore, the application of microfluidics in single-cell sequencing has enabled the elucidation of the genetic changes associated with HGT events, providing insights into the evolution of tumor genomes. This review also discusses the challenges and opportunities in studying HGT materials using microfluidic-based technologies. In conclusion, microfluidic-based technologies have significantly advanced the field of cancer liquid biopsy, enabling the sensitive and accurate detection of HGT materials. As the understanding of HGT's role in tumor evolution and therapy resistance continues to evolve, the synergistic integration of microfluidics and HGT research promises to provide valuable insights into cancer biology, with potential implications for precision oncology and therapeutic strategies.


  • Haghjooy Javanmard, Shaghayegh
  • Rafiee, Laleh
  • Bahri Najafi, Majed
  • Khorsandi, Danial
  • Hasan, Anwarul
  • Vaseghi, Golnaz
  • Makvandi, Pooyan

publication date

  • December 2023