As originally seen in The Journal of Precision Medicine March 2019.Targeted therapies and now recently, immunotherapies, have demonstrated great promise towards increasing response rates, as well as duration of response for cancer patients. This is often achieved by understanding biomarkers associated with therapeutic response and then stratifying patients accordingly.
It is very likely that on your last flight the turbofan engines were controlled by full authority digital engine controls – FADECs for short. FADECs have played a significant role in keeping airline ticket prices low (except during holidays) by continually adjusting engine parameters so that the engine operates with maximum fuel efficiency and within operational limits, allowing pilots to focus on other tasks.
The ability to rapidly and effectively evaluate the performance of customized next-generation sequencing (NGS) panels is critical to provide high-quality sequencing solutions to customers. New England Biolabs®, together with Directed Genomics®, is developing a new offering, NEBNext Direct® Custom Ready Panels, which will allow researchers to select from a large library of genes for which baits have been developed and optimized, thus enabling rapid deployment of customized target-enrichment panels. Directed Genomics has been collaborating with SeraCare Life Sciences in order to streamline the optimization and characterization of NEBNext Direct target enrichment panels.
Evaluate your detection of key diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic markers
Myeloid cancers are “liquid” tumors that arise from the blood and bone marrow. These diseases have undergone greater study and characterization than perhaps any other type of cancer, largely due to the ease of accessing these cancer cells via a blood draw rather than a tissue biopsy, as for solid tumors. There are many different types and subtypes of these malignancies that are known to be caused by mutations in genes that encode proteins involved in cell signaling, transcription, epigenetic regulation, and splicing1.
Before next-generation sequencing became available in the hematology/oncology clinic, high-resolution genetic analysis of myeloid cancers relied primarily upon site-specific methods such as Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization (FISH) and PCR-based assays. And, while other methods such as karyotyping and array comparative genomic hybridization are indeed able to survey large genomic rearrangements and copy number changes across the entire genome, these methods lack the resolution required for detection of many mutations that are important for myeloid cancers.
For many years, next-generation sequencing (NGS) made headlines with researchers promising unprecedented breakthroughs in medical diagnostics. But the clinical impact was always explained as being a few years and more large-scale studies away from reality. In 2010, forward-thinking academics forecasted whole-genome sequencing in a matter of hours for only $30 (right around that same time, a Stanford researcher sequenced his own genome for less than $50,000 – a record low at that point).
Answering frequently asked questions (FAQs)
In the course of patient care, formalin-fixation and paraffin-embedding (FFPE) of biopsy tissue samples are routinely performed, where these samples can be analyzed by histology and archived to link the sample with clinical long-term follow-up. With the development of advanced NGS-based oncology gene panels, it is becoming increasingly important to consider pre-analytic variables when extracting nucleic acids from FFPE-treated samples. This post covers frequently asked questions (FAQs) around the extraction of nucleic acids from FFPE samples for downstream NGS analysis.
"The most effective ways to use QC data to monitor the health of your NGS assay."
Previously, we wrote about some of the Quality Control challenges that clinical laboratories performing Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) face towards ensuring their assays are safe and effective for guiding medical management decisions. Reliable access to high quality reference materials is necessary to help overcome these challenges; however, it is not sufficient. Insights that reference materials provide into the health of an NGS assay are only as good as laboratories’ ability to use their QC data effectively.
With limited time and resources to collect, organize, access, and analyze QC metrics, laboratories may frequently rely on reference materials as binary indicators of Pass/Fail: As long as the expected endpoint results are obtained, an assay is considered to be performing well. The drawback of this approach is that it is reactive, rather than proactive: A sufficient number of failures must occur within a given timeframe before a troubleshooting investigation is performed. By the time a problem is recognized, resources have been wasted and turnaround times (TAT) delayed; in some cases, fidelity of patient results may even have been put at risk. Additional time and costs are then incurred as the investigation proceeds.
Specimen analysis by NGS yields a wealth of information in addition to endpoint variant calls that is indicative of assay performance. Data such as nucleic acid quantity and quality at different steps throughout the workflow (PDF) and sequencing library characteristics are generated every time a reference material is tested. However, these data must be carefully tracked and trended to allow use as highly informative QC parameters. For clinical laboratories whose primary focus is on patient testing and reporting, granular QC metrics may not be captured and reviewed as part of routine test monitoring.
“Ensure NGS-based tests for Personalized Medicine are safe and effective for guiding medical management decisions”
Since the introduction of the GS20 in 2005 by 454 Life Sciences, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) has found many applications in clinical diagnostics. As a result of this transition from the long-held gold standard, Sanger sequencing, the primary challenge for clinical laboratories has shifted from data acquisition to ensuring these tests are safe and effective for guiding medical management decisions.
Many laboratories struggle to gain a thorough understanding of the analytic performance characteristics of their NGS tests. The difficulty arises from the fact that these assays are comprised of highly complex, fragmented workflows, and have many different intended uses. However, across the various practices currently used for NGS assay development, validation, and performance monitoring, there is a common goal: results must be as accurate, precise, and consistent as possible.
The distinction between accuracy and precision.
If you took a university introductory statistics course, you may have learned the distinction between accuracy and precision. It may likely have been presented with an archery analogy, where ‘Accurate’ was represented by arrows loosely clustered around the target’s bull’s-eye, ‘Precise’ was shown as a tight grouping displaced from the center, and ‘Accurate and Precise’ was depicted as what every archer aims for, a tight grouping directly at the bull’s-eye. Suddenly, words that are used interchangeably in everyday conversation took on dramatically different meanings.
Important information for assay development and review by the FDA
The presentations during the FDA-AACR Liquid Biopsies in Oncology Drug and Device Development Workshop on July 19, 2016 included several important pieces of information that will likely guide the development of assays and their review by the FDA.