Liquid biopsy requires better standardization to realize all the new possibilities for studying metastasis, heterogenicity, treatment efficacy, and disease recurrence. Furthermore, it is critical for clinicians to have confidence in liquid biopsy data to diagnose and treat patients. This is only achievable when consistent and high-quality data is generated at research and all clinical centers. The Liquid Biopsies course at EMBL Advanced Training Centre provides a unique practical training in best practices and pitfalls on the complete liquid biopsy workflow, from sample preparation to data analysis. The course is targeted for clinical laboratory and research scientists interested in learning all aspects of liquid biopsy testing.
One of several important steps in next-generation sequencing (NGS) is tuning the many options provided by mutation callers. Providing values for options configures the signal to noise ratio of the impending mutation calls. In theory, providing values that increase the stringency of mutation calls will reduce the number of false positive calls and thus enrich for true positives. In practice, increasing stringency can eliminate true positives.
An important goal in cancer disease management is early detection. When detected early, disease progression can be significantly mitigated with a plethora of options (targeted therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, etc.) available to medical practitioners, to afford progression free survival and a higher quality of life. A great promise of liquid biopsies is the possibility of early detection of cancer long before clear evidence of lesions and tumor growth observable by imaging or other techniques.1 As proxy for solid tissue biopsies, plasma-based liquid biopsy application is rapidly gaining traction in cancer disease diagnosis, progression, monitoring, and in predicting resistance to treatment options.2
Highly multiplexed reference materials are particularly valuable when developing and optimizing new NGS assays because they allow you to evaluate the performance of your assay across a large number of variants including different variant types (SNVs, indels, homopolymeric variants, etc.) and contexts. However, it can be frustrating when a variant in the reference material is not detected, or not detected at the expected variant allele frequency. Troubleshooting such issues can give new insight into the performance of the assay. Here we share some stories from Seraseq™ users where the lack of detection of one or more variants at the expected levels helped them improve their assay or set more appropriate QC thresholds.
The 11th International Symposium on Minimal Residual Cancer was held this month and much of the conference was devoted to new minimally invasive methods for circulating tumor cell enrichment and or the analysis of circulating tumor DNA. Today’s clinical needs are to measure disease burden, track mutations over time, or to detect early resistance and all of these applications require extremely sensitive, robust assays.
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.
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.
Poster Titled “New Technical Approach to Construct ctDNA Materials for use in Characterizing, Developing and Validating Plasma Assays”, available for download
The Keystone Symposia is an organization with 44 years of history on specialized topics across the fields of molecular and cellular biology. This week in Banff, Alberta, Canada is a Keystone Symposia conference called The Cancer Genome, along with a joint meeting on Genomics and Personalized Medicine. Their Twitter description (@KeystoneSymp) describes the Keystone organization as “A catalyst for accelerating life science discovery and connecting scientists within and across disciplines at symposia worldwide”.
A handy infographic to compare the first-generation (Sanger) and next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies
It is hard to believe that next-generation sequencing has only been around for a little over ten years, but has had a profound impact on many frontiers of basic and applied genetics. To contrast the first-generation (Sanger sequencing by capillary electrophoresis) and the next-generation sequencing (NGS) approaches, we provide you with this infographic.