In the field of oncology, you can count on medical researchers being eager to take advantage of any new technology and treatment modality that can help patients who are diagnosed with cancer. With faster and more powerful computers to support high-speed NGS efforts, healthcare professionals are gaining new tools to combat tumors.
To that end, scientists are harnessing next generation sequencing technologies to further research into cancer.
Many individuals are at least somewhat familiar with NGS, from accounts in news media or perhaps while in consultation in their doctor’s office. NGS is the term for next generation sequencing. Scientists use this to sequence RNA and DNA, with the aim to identify variations or mutations. In order to look at a person’s genetic code technicians require high-speed, high-bandwidth computer systems to crunch through all of the genes.
With an NGS setup, technicians survey the incidence of disease in communities and help to diagnose syndromes such as cancer, as well as figure out the best approach for treatment.
How Next Generation Sequencing Is Involved in Cancer Research
NGS technologies are a natural fit for cancer research. As noted by a recent report from Science, NGS systems allow scientists to pull together data from a range of nucleic acid sources, with multiple options for subsequent analysis.
Examples of next generation sequencing technologies that help advance cancer research include:
* T-Cell Assays: This investigates the positive immune system responses of people, as determined through NGS investigation of the T-cell level from a sample taken from a patient. Researchers will need to know how much INF-y production is occurring in a test tube. NGS does this with T-cell receptor sequencing, per Science.
* Transcriptomics: Investigators in labs and other research facilities use transcriptomics, to sequence an entire transcriptome using RNA-seq to help discover mutations via expression detection and profiling. Researchers want to use transcriptomics to find and determine the amount of tumor-infiltrating immune cells.
* Single-line Sequences: A scientist can employ single-line sequencing to investigate samples of tumor tissues, to gain better insight into the microenvironment of cancer, how immune cells interact with tumors, as well as the action of neoantigen-reactive T cells that infiltrate tumors.
* Genome and Exome Sequencing: With fast and high-bandwidth whole-exome sequencing and whole-genome sequencing, scientists can use this technology o find somatic mutations in cancer cells, which they accomplish through reading differences between normal tissue and cancer.
* Predicting Neoantigens: When a technician needs to discover all potential peptides than could bind to a patient’s human leukocyte antigen complement, which is known as the HLA ligandome. You do this in a lab with whole-exome sequencing, whole-genome sequencing, and RNA-seq data, which helps to reduce the population of expressed mutations into those that are the most likely neoantigens.
The Future of Cancer Research Will Progress Thanks to NGS Technology
From surveillance in support of public health measures to improved capability for diagnosis and a more customized approach toward individual treatment plans, NGS technology is earning a well-deserved spot on the scientific bench in laboratories across the world.
It’s clear that next generation sequencing is a crucial aspect of oncology research today and should be an important tool in the scientific toolbox for many years to come.
Doctors who need fast answers to diagnostic questions before they can formulate a targeted response for their patients will want to harness NGS systems. Scientists and lab technicians will be looking forward to faster and more efficient systems with NGS technology to help them do better in the fight against this disease.