A blog with news and curiosity on genomics subjects with a particular interest for topics related to Next Generation Sequencing, Personal Genomics and Bioinformatics. We work at the University of Brescia (Italy) and are new in the field but with a lot of energy to share.
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, Li Ka Shing Centre, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0RE, UK.
Plasma of cancer patients contains cell-free tumor DNA that carries information on tumor mutations and tumor burden. Individual mutations have been probed using allele-specific assays, but sequencing of entire genes to detect cancer mutations in circulating DNA has not been demonstrated. We developed a method for tagged-amplicon deep sequencing (TAm-Seq) and screened 5995 genomic bases for low-frequency mutations. Using this method, we identified cancer mutations present in circulating DNA at allele frequencies as low as 2%, with sensitivity and specificity of >97%. We identified mutations throughout the tumor suppressor gene TP53 in circulating DNA from 46 plasma samples of advanced ovarian cancer patients. We demonstrated use of TAm-Seq to noninvasively identify the origin of metastatic relapse in a patient with multiple primary tumors. In another case, we identified in plasma an EGFR mutation not found in an initial ovarian biopsy. We further used TAm-Seq to monitor tumor dynamics, and tracked 10 concomitant mutations in plasma of a metastatic breast cancer patient over 16 months. This low-cost, high-throughput method could facilitate analysis of circulating DNA as a noninvasive "liquid biopsy" for personalized cancer genomics.