Webinar: Best Practices for Bringing Plasma Biopsy In-house

The demand for access to less invasive biopsy methods for cancer presents a critical decision for many provider laboratories. Access to in-house testing solutions has become an urgent need for many labs in order to provide rapid and accurate precision oncology services to oncologists that may improve treatment selection and outcomes for individuals, and enable laboratories to be more competitive in a fast-growing diagnostic market.

In this webinar, Dr. Melissa McConechy, Senior manager, Assay development at Canexia Health outlined the best practices and processes for transitioning to in-house testing including critical factors such as staffing, pre-analytical considerations for blood collection, sample input, limitations and generation of clinical reports.


Some key takeaways from the webinar include:


  • Key challenges that labs face to offer NGS-based panels for somatic mutations fall under three categories: 
    • Complex testing which include deep expertise in very diverse areas (such as oncology, genomics, computational biology, bioinformatics)
    • High level of quality assurance
    • Time and cost concerns 
  • Variability of input per sample directly affects input HGEs and thus the sensitivity for detecting ctDNA mutations
  • Setting up a liquid biopsy assay in your laboratory is achievable with the choice of  right assay and workflow
  • Canexia Health’s liquid biopsy assay demonstrated actionable results for patients as part of Access to Testing and Treatment (ACTT) project in Canada. 

Increasing Access to Circulating Tumor DNA Testing in Canada: Webinar


Cancer patients have been heavily impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With thousands of tissue biopsies delayed and patients postponing clinic visits across Canada, increasing access to circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) testing for targeted treatment selection has offered another option for oncologists.


Canexia Health and Illumina recently co-hosted a virtual discussion with Canadian oncology experts:

  • David Huntsman, MD, FRCPC, FCCMG | Chief Medical Officer, Canexia Health
  • Harriet Feilotter, PhD, FCCMG | Professor, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Queen’s UniversityDirector, Molecular Genetics, Kingston Health Sciences Center
  • Sandeep Sehdev, MD, FRCPC | Assistant Professor, Medical Oncologist, The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre
  • Xiaofu Zhu, MD, FRCPC | Medical Oncologist, Cross Cancer Institute


The panelists discussed the impacts of delayed cancer testing and late stage diagnosis, how liquid biopsy can alleviate the need for tissue biopsy and hospital visits, the value of bringing testing in-house vs. sending out of country, and how to continue driving ctDNA adoption in Canada beyond the pandemic.       

They noted that while the pandemic catapulted ctDNA testing forward in some respects and patients are more aware than ever of this testing and options for targeted treatment, reimbursement remains one of the biggest challenges — especially given how quickly the landscape is changing.   

“At ASCO, one of the most interesting talks was an educational session on ‘druggable targets’ and how there are now so many. And, almost every interesting clinical trial in Canada now requires this type of molecular characterization to be eligible,”said Dr. Sehdev. “We can’t be caught behind the rest of the world.”

“People have seen what’s possible through initiatives like Project ACTT, for instance, which offered ctDNA testing for 2,000 samples from across Canada. That wouldn’t have happened without COVID-earmarked funding actually looking for solutions. There is a much greater appetite to move this forward,” said Dr. Feilotter.

“For me the opportunity comes back to availability. I want this test available for all my patients, at my facility. I don’t like the idea of sending it out, out of country, for instance, to a large group where the data just all gets sort of stuck someplace else and what you get back is a report but you never get to get the data back. I think it’s really critical that Canada looks at this carefully. Moving this to a standard of care tool should be a priority,” said Dr. Zhu.


Making the case for bringing precision oncology testing in-house in complex healthcare systems

Treating late stage cancer patients during a pandemic: An international and multidisciplinary perspective

Best Practices for Bringing Liquid Biopsy In-house

Liquid Biopsy – Is it the New Standard of Cancer Care?