From the University of Washington
In a study of 36 women – 16 diagnosed with ovarian cancer and a control group of 20 with no cancer diagnosis – nearly all of the women were found to carry cancer-associated gene mutations.
“Cancer mutations are supposed to indicate the presence of cancer. This study suggests that if we sequence deeply enough, we will find cancer mutations in nearly everyone,” said Rosana Risques, a UW assistant professor of pathology, who led the study with Jeff Krimmel, a medical student.
This study suggests that if we sequence deeply enough, we will find cancer mutations in nearly everyone.
The study is a caution for scientists and clinicians trying to detect cancer based on mutations, said Michael Schmitt, a co-author of the study and co-inventor of duplex sequencing. He is an oncology fellow at UW Medicine and Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.
“Because healthy tissue frequently carries low-frequency cancer-like mutations, we need exquisitely sensitive technologies to accurately define the mutational load and differentiate between truly cancerous changes versus age-associated mutations,” he said.
The study was an early test of the power of DNA duplex sequencing, a technology developed at the University of Washington. Duplex sequencing independently tags molecules along both strands of DNA. In terms of a prospective diagnostic, its accuracy is thought to be unmatched.
This research, marking the technology’s first published application in human cancer detection, was posted online today by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading