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Aurora magazine

Genetic sequencing to address lung cancer

In the case of lung cancer with metastases, genetic testing is now a standard practice. They help to identify the most effective treatment without dangerous waste of time. Standard tests examine single genes known for their role in the appearance of the tumor. According to a new study, however, the next-generation genetic sequencing (NGS) could be more effective.

The study started from a model based on hypothetical cases and patients, 2221 in all. This is a big limitation, given that researchers started from many unverifiable assumptions. The results will therefore require further confirmation. Nevertheless, the first results confirmed the greater reliability of the new generation sequencing.

The method would in fact be faster, with a higher percentage of identified and even less expensive alterations.
Standard genetic tests focus on a limited number of individually analyzed genes. But there is a problem: the number of genes involved in the onset of the tumor is growing. Standard therapies approved by the US Food and Drug Administration affect only four of these genes. Also identifying the other genes and striking them with ad hoc treatments could therefore greatly improve current treatments.

The study authors point out that larger genetic tests could radically change some treatments. For example, a traditional test could detect a mutation of the EGFR gene, linked to lung cancer with metastasis. The next generation sequencing could reveal the presence of a KRAS mutation. This mutation makes the tumors resistant to the drugs used in case of an anomaly in the EGFR gene. As a result, the broader genetic test would avoid unnecessary treatment for the patient.