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J Mol Diagn. 2019 Jul;21(4):632-645. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2019.02.008. Epub 2019 Apr 23.

Clinical Validation of a Cell-Free DNA Gene Panel.

Author information

1
Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
2
Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
3
Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address: aiafrate@partners.org.

Abstract

The use of liquid biopsies to identify driver mutations in patients with solid tumors holds great promise for performing targeted therapy selection, monitoring disease progression, and detecting treatment resistance mechanisms. We describe herein the development and clinical validation of a 28-gene cell-free DNA panel that targets the most common genetic alterations in solid tumors. Bioinformatic and variant filtering solutions were developed to improve test sensitivity and specificity. The panel and these tools were used to analyze commercially available controls, allowing establishment of a limit of detection allele fraction cutoff of 0.25%, with 100% (95% CI, 81.5%-100%) specificity and 89.8% (95% CI, 81.0%-94.9%) sensitivity. In addition, we analyzed a total of 163 blood samples from patients with metastatic cancer (n = 123) and demonstrated a >90% sensitivity for detecting previously identified expected mutations. Longitudinal monitoring of patients revealed a strong correlation of variant allele frequency changes and clinical outcome. Additional clinically relevant information included identification of resistance mutations in patients receiving targeted treatment and detection of complex patterns of mutational heterogeneity. Achieving lower limits of detection will require additional improvements to molecular barcoding; however, these data strongly support clinical implementation of cell-free DNA panels in advanced cancer patients.

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