DETECTION of genetic alterations in cancer
Molecular biology laboratories use a number of different methods to investigate cancer genetics and detect a range of genetic alterations that may be potential therapeutic targets.
Molecular analyses involve an evaluation by an expert pathologist who selects the tumor area to be tested. The three main types of tests are: DNA analysis, messenger mRNA expression analysis, and protein expression. Although these are all carried out in tumor tissue or ‘liquid biopsies’, their clinical significance may vary. For example, EGFR mutations predict good sensitivity to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in lung cancer, whereas expression levels of messenger RNA or proteins do not have any predictive value for this type of cancer.
In solid tumors, most tests are performed in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue. However, some patients do not have sufficient tumor tissue available to perform vital genetic analyses. Therefore, we are leaders in the field of non-invasive diagnostic tests using alternative biosources such as cerebrospinal fluid or serum, plasma and platelets from blood samples to detect certain mutations.