New cancer panel holds promise in detection of previously undetected viral, cancer mutations

Published on May 31, 2014 at 9:34 AM · No Comments

Researchers from Sanford Health and Chronix Biomedical today announced that results from a pilot study demonstrating the utility of a new cancer panel to detect previously undetected viral and cancer mutations are to be reported in a poster presentation titled "Detection of novel HPV mutations and chromosomal number imbalance (CNI) in oropharyngeal and laryngeal cancer using next-generation sequencing (NGS)" (Abstract #6072) at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting (ASCO 2014) being held from May 30 through June 3, 2014 in Chicago. The panel identified human papilloma virus (HPV) sequences undetected by conventional laboratory tests as well as new unreported HPV mutations. It is estimated that each year there are approximately 30,000 cases of HPV-associated cancers in the US.

In the study, researchers applied advanced next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques to identify tumor-associated mutations in 10 laryngeal and oropharyngeal cancer patients who underwent standard chemo-radiation therapy. As a control, two samples from relapsing respiratory papillamatous patients were analyzed. The single blinded study looked at biopsied DNA from patients that were either positive or negative by conventional HPV testing. The new test identified HPV sequences in 6 of the samples of which conventional testing only identified 4. The new test agreed with conventional testing in the other 5 samples that were negative for HPV sequences. Additionally, the new test identified mutations to the HPV sequences previously unreported on HPV databases. Further, the chromosome number imbalance discovered was consistent with oropharyngeal cancers.

Analyzing a patient's cancer for genetic mutations is the basis for predicting treatment outcomes using various cancer drugs and protocols. Currently, most cancer mutation panels focus on less than 1 percent of the cancer genome with limited predictive value. The preliminary finding from this study is the basis for a larger planned study designed to match these viral and cancer mutations to clinical outcomes using a vastly expanded panel. By using a more extensive mutation panel, the accuracy of genetic testing should be vastly increased for predicting optimal treatment decisions.

"These powerful new technologies are allowing us to better understand the role of viruses in cancer and the ability to make better treatment decisions patient-by-patient. In the next study, we plan to follow up using a blood-based liquid biopsy to determine in real-time the efficacy of the treatment," said Professor John H. Lee, MD, Department of Cancer Research, Sanford Health, and Principal Investigator of the study.

"Current technology uses limited amounts of data to make important treatment decisions. This new technology greatly expands the amount of medically critical data we can use to increase the accuracy of treatment decision-making. This new cancer panel has the potential to significantly enhance patient care while greatly reducing the cost to the healthcare system," said study lead-author Howard B. Urnovitz, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Chronix Biomedical.

"This new comprehensive genetic cancer panel will make a major contribution with great benefit for cancer patients because accurate prediction of treatment efficacy can guide therapeutic options, which can be confirmed in weeks through a liquid biopsy.," said Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Schütz, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer of Chronix Biomedical.

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