BiLiGeCT - Liquid Biopsies for the Clinical Management of Tumors

The project aims to answer questions, still open, in the clinical management of tumor disease both in subjects who are still healthy, with a high genetic risk of cancer (including hereditary-familial) and in patients for early diagnosis or the right therapeutic choice by a liquid biopsy approach.

The concept of liquid biopsy includes the analysis of free nucleic acids (DNA, non-coding RNA) and Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC), which are the tumor population leading to tumor recurrence.

An innovative approach is furtherly represented by the isolation of nano-vesicles, called exosomes, representative of the tissue of origin, including the tumor, and circulating in the peripheral blood of the enrolled participant cohorts in the trial. Thanks to their molecular shuttled reservoir (i.e. proteins, non-coding DNA and RNA fragments, lipids, etc.), exosomes may represent a useful and non-invasive source of biological material for the analysis of new tumor-specific markers.

To achieve the proposed goal, the study will explore all the fields described above. The advantage of liquid biopsy is the possibility of obtaining tumor-representative samples in a non-invasive way, and repeatedly over time, to monitor the dynamic evolution of the cancer disease, the primary factor in therapeutic failure.

Italian Institute of Health

Scientific Responsible:
Dott.ssa Desiree Bonci

Lead Partner:

Scientific Responsible:
Dott. Marco Pierotti

University of TURIN

Scientific Responsible:
Dott.ssa Alberto Bardelli

Oncologic Institute of Mediterraneo S.p.a.

Scientific Responsible:
Dott. Stefano Forte


Scientific Responsible:
Dott. Claudio Pisano

The project

The BiLiGeCT project, funded by the PON Program (, includes five research lines for the development of circulating markers for the prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of hereditary and non-hereditary tumors:

  • the first line of research concerns the early diagnosis of the neoplastic disease, with a liquid biopsy approach, in healthy BRCA + subjects at risk of breast / ovarian tumors to develop a sensitive and economical diagnostic " tool " as a new screening approach
  • the second line, like the first, focuses on BRCA + hereditary-familial tumors, but on subjects with a certain cancer diagnosis to decision-making and monitoring the adequate therapy
  • the third line will again focus on the themes of early diagnosis and therapy, focusing on the study of exosomes, in lung tumors to make the diagnosis of the disease more effective and less invasive
  • the fourth line of research will address the issue of early diagnosis using liquid biopsies, also focused on the study of exosomes, in prostate cancers and the choice of therapies in colorectal cancer
  • the fifth line of research will seek to develop innovative cellular tests for the screening of new therapeutically active molecules or the clinical repositioning of already known drugs. As a model, the problem posed by BRCA mutations of unknown functional significance (VUS) will be initially addressed and PARP inhibitors will be tested for sensitivity and efficacy on BRCA + tumors

Funding: Euro 7.255.211,53
Start date: December 2019
Duration: 42 months

The final objective of the project is to develop innovative diagnostic tools for the management of tumors, which will bring possible and significant benefits to screening programs and for adequate therapeutic choice. The liquid biopsy approach offers a non-invasive dimension and represents a dynamic monitoring modality.

OR1 Early diagnosis of the disease in BRCA + subject
OR2 Diagnosis for therapy in BRCA + subjects+
OR3 Early diagnosis and therapy of lung cancer
OR4 Early diagnosis of prostate cancer; therapeutic appropriateness in the management of colorectal cancers
OR5 Cell models for drug screening