Scientists have develop a new breast cancer gene test that is more effective than existing tests for the well-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes linked to the disease.
Demand for better tests for breast and ovarian cancer genes has grown in recent years, because conventional methods can be time consuming and costly, noted researchers from the Genome Sciences Centre and Department of Pathology of the BC Cancer Agency.
In a new report in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics
, the researchers describe a new technique that is as sensitive as the standard methodology but has the potential to improve the efficiency and productivity of genetic testing laboratories.
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"In our laboratory, approximately 25 percent of high risk patients who undergo BRCA1 or BRCA2 testing will generate a result with a real or ambiguous relationship to hereditary cancer risk, and so testing for these mutations is an important tool to identify individuals who would benefit from preventative surgery or increased breast cancer surveillance," said lead researcher Aly Karsan, M.D., of the Genome Sciences Centre.
Dr. Karsan, whose institution receives more than 500 requests annually for such genetic testing, expects demand to rise and wait times to increase as public awareness broadens, especially following such high-profile patients as Angelina Jolie.
The new test involves what's known as next-generation sequencing to track millions of DNA fragments and offers the promise of improving the detection, management, and treatment of genetic diseases such as ovarian and breast cancer.
For the new study, investigators used the test on 91 patient DNA samples, and compared their results to standard genetic testing. The results showed the new test was as precise as the standard method, with no false-positive or false-negative predictions, but proved more sensitive and specific in precisely detecting genetic features in cancer-related genes.
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