Multi-marker Solid Tumor Panels Using Next-generation Sequencing to Direct Molecularly Targeted Therapies


In contemporary oncology practices there is an increasing emphasis on concurrent evaluation of multiple genomic alterations within the biological pathways driving tumorigenesis. At the foundation of this paradigm shift are several commercially available tumor panels using next-generation sequencing to develop a more complete molecular blueprint of the tumor. Ideally, these would be used to identify clinically actionable variants that can be matched with available molecularly targeted therapy, regardless of the tumor site or histology. Currently, there is little information available on the post-analytic processes unique to next-generation sequencing platforms used by the companies offering these tests. Additionally, evidence of clinical validity showing an association between the genetic markers curated in these tests with treatment response to approved molecularly targeted therapies is lacking across all solid-tumor types. To date, there is no published data of improved outcomes when using the commercially available tests to guide treatment decisions. The uniqueness of these tests from other genomic applications used to guide clinical treatment decisions lie in the sequencing platforms used to generate large amounts of genomic data, which have their own related issues regarding analytic and clinical validity, necessary precursors to the evaluation of clinical utility. The generation and interpretation of these data will require new evidentiary standards for establishing not only clinical utility, but also analytical and clinical validity for this emerging paradigm in oncology practice.

SLCO1B1 Polymorphisms and Statin-Induced Myopathy


Statin drugs are highly effective in lowering blood concentrations of LDL-cholesterol, with concomitant reduction in risk of major cardiovascular events. Although statins are generally regarded as safe and well-tolerated, some users develop muscle symptoms that are mostly mild but in rare cases can lead to life-threatening rhabdomyolysis. The SEARCH genome-wide association study, which has been independently replicated, found a significant association between the rs4149056 (c.521T>C) single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the SLCO1B1 gene, and myopathy in individuals taking 80 mg simvastatin per day, with an odds ratio of 4.5 per rs4149056 C allele. The purpose of this paper is to assemble evidence relating to the analytical validity, clinical validity and clinical utility of using SLCO1B1 rs4149056 genotyping to inform choice and dose of statin treatment, with the aim of minimising statin-induced myopathy and increasing adherence to therapy. Genotyping assays for the rs4149056 SNP appear to be robust and accurate, though direct evidence for the performance of array-based platforms in genotyping individual SNPs was not found. Using data from the SEARCH study, calculated values for the clinical sensitivity, specificity, positive- and negative-predictive values of a test for the C allele to predict definite or incipient myopathy during 5 years of 80 mg/day simvastatin use were 70.4%, 73.7%, 4.1% and 99.4% respectively. There is a need for studies comparing the clinical validity of SLCO1B1 rs4149056 genotyping with risk scores for myopathy based on other factors such as racial background, statin type and dose, gender, body mass index, co-medications and co-morbidities. No direct evidence was found for clinical utility of statin prescription guided by SLCO1B1 genotype.

Genetic Testing Strategies in Newly Diagnosed Endometrial Cancer Patients Aimed at Reducing Morbidity or Mortality from Lynch Syndrome in the Index Case or Her Relatives


Endometrial cancer is the first malignancy in 50% of women with Lynch syndrome, an autosomal dominant cancer-prone syndrome caused by germline mutations in genes encoding components of the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) pathway. These women (2-4% of all those with endometrial cancer) are at risk of metachronous colorectal cancer and other Lynch syndrome-associated cancers, and their first-degree relatives are at 50% risk of Lynch syndrome. Testing all women newly diagnosed with endometrial cancer for Lynch syndrome may have clinical utility for the index case and her relatives by alerting them to the benefits of surveillance and preventive options, primarily for colorectal cancer. The strategy involves offering germline DNA mutation testing to those whose tumour shows loss-of-function of MMR protein(s) when analysed for microsatellite instability (MSI) and/or by immunohistochemisty (IHC). In endometrial tumours from unselected patients, MSI and IHC have a sensitivity of 80-100% and specificity of 60-80% for detecting a mutation in an MMR gene, though the number of suitable studies for determining clinical validity is small. The clinical validity of strategies to exclude those with false-positive tumour test results due to somatic hypermethylation of the MLH1 gene promoter has not been determined. Options include direct methylation testing, and excluding those over the age of 60 who have no concerning family history or clinical features. The clinical utility of Lynch syndrome testing for the index case depends on her age and the MMR gene mutated: the net benefit is lower for those diagnosed at older ages and with less-penetrant MSH6 mutations. To date, women with these features are the majority of those diagnosed through screening unselected endometrial cancer patients but the number of studies is small. Similarly, clinical utility to relatives of the index case is higher if the family’s mutation is in MLH1 or MSH2 than for MSH6 or PMS2. Gaps in current evidence include a need for large, prospective studies on unselected endometrial cancer patients, and for health-economic analysis based on appropriate assumptions.

Use of the Corus® CAD Gene Expression Test for Assessment of Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease Likelihood in Symptomatic Non-Diabetic Patients


The determination of the underlying etiology of symptoms suggestive of obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD, ≥50% stenosis in a major coronary artery) is a common clinical challenge in both primary care and cardiology clinics. Usual care in low to medium risk patients often involves a family history, risk factor assessment, and then stress testing with or without non-invasive imaging. If positive, this is often followed by invasive coronary angiography (ICA). Despite extensive adoption of this usual care paradigm, more than 60% of patients referred for angiography do not have obstructive CAD. In order to robustly identify those symptomatic patients without obstructive CAD, who can avoid subsequent cardiac testing and look elsewhere for the cause of their symptoms, a recently described whole blood gene expression score (GES: Corus® CAD, CardioDx, Inc., Palo Alto, CA) has been developed and validated in two multi-center trials. This paper reviews the published literature and assessments by independent parties regarding the analytical and clinical validity as well as the clinical utility of the Corus® CAD test.

SCN1A Genetic Test for Dravet Syndrome (Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy and its Clinical Subtypes) for use in the Diagnosis, Prognosis, Treatment and Management of Dravet Syndrome


Classic Dravet syndrome is also termed severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (SMEI). There are subtle phenotypic variants of Dravet which may have all the features of the syndrome except one, such as without myoclonic seizures, onset in the second year or without generalized spike and wave on EEG. These have been termed borderline variants of SMEI. Rather than ascribing multiple different names to marginally different phenotypes, the term Dravet syndrome is now preferred to describe the group of severe infantile onset epilepsies (OMIM #607208, #182389, #604403) associated with mutations in SCN1A (OMIM *182389).

SCN1A-related seizure disorders can be inherited in an autosomal dominant manner but most are due to de novo mutations. SCN1A testing can be done through bi-directional DNA sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) for:
1) individuals with electroclinical phenotype of Dravet Syndrome or clinical sub-types – several seizure types in one individual with onset in infancy, refractory to medication and with generalised spike and wave on EEG, or
2) infants less than 1 year old with 2 or more prolonged hemiclonic febrile seizures in early infancy.

Disclaimer: This summary is based on a UK Genetic Testing Network (UKGTN) approved Gene Dossier application.

The DecisionDx-UM Gene Expression Profile Test Provides Risk Stratification and Individualized Patient Care in Uveal Melanoma


Uveal melanoma (UM) is the most common primary cancer of the eye and has a strong propensity for metastasis. Although there have been many recent improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of UM, and only 2-4% of patients present with detectable metastasis, up to half of patients are at risk for dying of metastatic disease. Clinicopathologic factors are not accurate enough for individualized patient care. Chromosomal alterations have been used for prognostic purposes, but the routine clinical use of these methods is limited by their susceptibility to sampling error resulting from tumor heterogeneity, limited clinical validation, lack of standardized testing platforms, and high technical failure rates. In contrast, the DecisionDx-UM gene expression profile test is a stand-alone platform which requires no other information for maximal prognostic accuracy and which circumvents many of the drawbacks of chromosomal methods through the use of a highly sensitive microfluidics, PCR-based platform that simultaneously measures the expression of 15 carefully selected genes from primary uveal melanoma samples obtained by fine needle biopsy. Low metastatic risk is reported as Class 1, and high metastatic risk as Class 2. The test allows patients to be stratified into risk categories such that high-risk patients can be offered intensive metastatic surveillance and adjuvant therapy while low-risk patients can be spared these interventions. This test is now used as part of the standard of care in many ocular oncology centers.

Use of the Afirma® Gene Expression Classifier for Preoperative Identification of Benign Thyroid Nodules with Indeterminate Fine Needle Aspiration Cytopathology


Ruling out malignancy in thyroid nodules historically depended on thyroid resection and histopathological evaluation until fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy was introduced into the United States in the 1970′s. Thyroid FNA biopsy identified a majority of thyroid nodules as benign, obviating the need for surgery in over half of the patients. However, 15%-30% of thyroid FNAs have indeterminate cytology that still requires operation, even though most of these operated nodules prove to be benign post-operatively. In order to predict which cytologically indeterminate thyroid nodules are benign and to potentially avoid surgery on these nodules, a recently described commercially available Gene Expression Classifier (GEC) test (Afirma®, Veracyte, Inc., South San Francisco, CA) has been developed that can be run on the FNA sample. This paper reviews the published literature and technology assessments/guidelines by independent parties and professional groups regarding the clinical utility as well as the analytic and clinical validity of the Afirma GEC.

Genetic testing for long QT syndrome and the category of cardiac ion channelopathies


Cardiac ion channel mutational analysis is a category of genetic testing used in clinical practice for determining the status of long QT syndrome, short QT syndrome, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, and Brugada syndrome genes in blood, saliva, or tissue from patients and family members at risk for cardiac events such as syncope and sudden death. Such testing is most informative following careful phenotypic characterization. Individuals with ion channelopathies may benefit from prevention (avoidance of triggers and predisposing drugs) and treatment (e.g., beta blocker therapy, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) placement) modalities.

Comprehensive Carrier Screening and Molecular Diagnostic Testing for Recessive Childhood Diseases


Of 7,028 disorders with suspected Mendelian inheritance, 1,139 are recessive and have an established molecular basis. Although individually uncommon, Mendelian diseases collectively account for ~20% of infant mortality and ~18% of pediatric hospitalizations. Molecular diagnostic testing is currently available for only ~300 recessive disorders. Preconception screening, together with genetic counseling of carriers, has resulted in remarkable declines in the incidence of several severe recessive diseases including Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. However, extension of preconception screening and molecular diagnostic testing to most recessive disease genes has hitherto been impractical. Recently, we reported a preconception carrier screen / molecular diagnostic test for 448 recessive childhood diseases. The current status of this test is reviewed here. Currently, this reports analytical validity of the comprehensive carrier test. As the clinical validity and clinical utility in the contexts described is ascertained, this article will be updated.

A 20 gene model for predicting nodal involvement in bladder cancer patients with muscle invasive tumors

Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in males worldwide and also the most expensive cancer to treat. Approximately 25% of patients with muscle invasive disease are found to harbor occult lymph node involvement at the time of cystectomy and this finding is associated with a 5-year survival rate of <30%. If these patients could be identified pre-operatively, use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be advantageous because this approach has been shown to confer a small survival advantage in patients with muscle invasive disease. However, because only a few patients benefit from this approach it has not been used extensively in the United States with fewer than 2% of patients undergoing this treatment. This is largely due to concerns that since neoadjuvant therapy is beneficial for only a few patients, it has the potential to delay surgery in the majority who do not benefit. However, since neoadjuvant therapy is most likely to benefit those patients at highest risk for progression of disease, it follows that patients with lymph node metastases would constitute an ideal group for such treatment. Hence, if patients with occult node involvement prior to cystectomy could be identified, they would constitute an ideal group for application of neoadjuvant therapy as they are most likely to benefit. In this summary, we describe the first multi-analyte gene expression model developed for predicting occult nodal involvement at cystectomy in bladder cancer patients, for the purpose of making better informed decisions regarding neoadjuvant therapy. The 20 gene model, which was developed on Affymetrix Human Genome U133A and U133 Plus 2.0 arrays, identified individuals with high relative risk (RR) of nodal involvement (RR = 1.74, 95% CI, 1.03 – 2.93) intermediate risk (RR = 1.05, 95% CI, .45 – 2.41), and low risk (RR = 0.74, 95% CI, 0.51 – 0.96), when evaluated in an independent test dataset. The 20 gene model can be applied to formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissue with sufficient tumor content, making implementation in routine diagnostic tissue highly feasible. Although a clinical assay for the gene panel has not undergone analytic validation in a clinical laboratory setting, multiple platforms are available which could be utilized for routine testing, including real-time reverse transcriptase PCR directed against individual analytes as well as microarray approaches.