Early detection is crucial for effective cancer treatment, and liquid biopsies, which involve a simple blood draw, are emerging as a non-invasive method for cancer diagnosis using DNA or RNA sequencing. Assistant Professor Daniel Kim and his team are advancing liquid biopsy technologies by harnessing signals from RNA “dark matter,” a lesser-explored segment of the genome.
Their research indicates that this genetic material is present in the blood of cancer patients and can be used to diagnose specific types of cancer, such as pancreatic, lung, and esophageal, early in their progression. The team’s RNA liquid biopsy platform, which detects both protein-coding RNA and RNA dark matter, has shown enhanced performance in cancer diagnosis. This groundbreaking research was published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.