managers and sponsors specialized in biomedical research

Liquid Biopsy Analysis Unit

Laura Muinelo Romay

The Liquid Biopsy Analysis Unit is a laboratory specializing in the analysis of circulating tumour cells (CTCs), circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) and other tumour elements existing in different biological fluids including blood, saliva, pleural liquid or cerebrospinal fluid. This Unit, created in 2010, provides services to different national and international clinical and research groups for the study of liquid biopsy.

The interest shown in the study of tumour material existing in biological fluids has increased exponentially over the last decade, mainly because this is the least invasive and most dynamic strategy to characterize tumours. At a clinical level, both the genetic alteration analysis, using ctDNA, and the quantification and characterization of CTCs have proven of great benefit for the detection of minimal residual disease, as prognostic and predictive response marker and for the accurate monitoring of response to treatment. In addition to this, at a research level, the possibility of isolating and characterizing CTCs, which are primarily responsible for metastasis formation, is invaluable to better understand the tumour dissemination process and the resistance development process.


  • Isolation of plasma and PBMC by centrifugation and density gradient exosome isolation.
  • Isolation and quantification of CTCs using the CellSearch, Parsortix, CELLection, Metacell and Cellcollector systems.
  • Isolation of DNA/RNA from plasma.
  • Gene expression studies by means of q-RT-PCR.
  • Gene studies to identify mutations by means of BEAMing and digital PCR in ctDNA.
  • Quantification of total cfDNA in plasma samples.
  • Protein studies by immunofluorescence and purification at single cell level of samples enriched with CTCs.

All these services can be carried out in human samples and in murine models.


The Liquid Biopsy Unit uses the following industry-leading technology for liquid biopsy analysis:

  • CellSearch system (Silicon Biosystems, the only system approved by the FDA for CTC quantification)
  • Parsortix system (Angle) for the antigen-independent isolation of CTCs.
  • Digital PCR system (QX200, Biorad) used to study occasional mutations, CNVs and small rearrangements, as well as the conducting of methylation studies.
  • Veriti Dx 96-well Thermal Cycler (Applied Biosystems)
  • Cutting-edge Cube6i Flow Cytometer (Partek).
  • Micromanipulator (Leica) and basic equipment for a molecular biology laboratory (centrifuges, biological safety cabinets, PCR cabinets and cell culture equipment).

In addition to its own equipment, the platform has other equipment available, shared with the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria (IDIS, Health Research Institute) of Santiago de Compostela, necessary for the study of liquid biopsy, such as the Leica SP8 confocal microscope, the DEParray system (Silicon Biosystems, managed by the Genomic Medicine Foundation at IDIS) or the NexSeq sequencer (Illunima, from the Epigenomics Unit at IDIS).

Current fees

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