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Johns Hopkins scientists develop personalized blood tests for cancer using whole genome sequencing
Date:2/18/2010

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have used data from the whole genome sequencing of cancer patients to develop individualized blood tests they believe can help physicians tailor patients' treatments. The genome-based blood tests, believed to be the first of their kind, may be used to monitor tumor levels after therapy and determine cancer recurrence.

"We believe this is the first application of newer generations of whole-genome sequencing that could be clinically useful for cancer patients," says Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of oncology and co-director of the cancer biology program at Johns Hopkins. "Using this approach, we can develop biomarkers for potentially any cancer patient."

In a report on the work, published in the February 24 issue of Science Translational Medicine, the scientists scanned patients' genomes for alterations that, they say, most researchers have not been looking for rearrangements of large chunks of DNA rather than changes in a single DNA letter among billions of others. They call their new approach Personalized Analysis of Rearranged Ends (PARE).

"In sequencing individuals' genomes in the past, we focused on single-letter changes, but in this study, we looked for the swapping of entire sections of the tumor genome," says Bert Vogelstein, M.D., Clayton Professor of Oncology, co-director of the Ludwig Institute at Johns Hopkins, and Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "These alterations, like the reordering of chapters of a book, are easier to identify and detect in the blood than single-letter changes."

Such DNA rearrangements are widely known to occur exclusively in cancer cells, not normal ones, making them ideal biomarkers for cancer.

Using six sets of cancerous and normal tissue samples taken from four colorectal and two breast cancer patients, the Johns Hopkins team used next-generation sequencing methods to catalogue the genome sequence da
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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wastava@jhmi.edu
410-955-1287
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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