A new study, published on February 11, 2016 in Nature’s Scientific Reports, presents a revolutionary method to isolate 100% pure tumor and stromal cell populations from minute, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens using the DEPArray™ technology. Scientists at Silicon Biosystems, a Bologna (Italy)- and San Diego (CA, USA)-based biotech company, demonstrated that DEPArray sorting allows downstream analysis of tumor genetic characteristics via next-generation sequencing (NGS) with unprecedented precision. Using this technolocy, scientists were able to surmount one of the biggest hurdles in the study of cancer genetics: namel, tumor sample heterogeneity. The new study presents, for the first time, a revolutionary method to isolate 100% pure tumor and stromal cell populations from minute FFPE specimens allowing downstream analysis of tumor genetic characteristics via next-generation sequencing (NGS) with unprecedented precision. The open-access article is titled “Digital Sorting of Pure Cell Populations Enables Unambiguous Genetic Analysis of Heterogeneous Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded Tumors by Next Generation Sequencing.” The application of precision medicine in oncology requires a rigorous understanding of the genetic characteristics that drive tumorigenesis. Available technologies, like NGS, hold an incredible potential, but their accuracy has been limited by the fact that biopsied tissue specimens represent a mixture of different cell types present in different proportions. Moreover, heterogeneity within the tumor cell population itself limits the possibility of identifying tumor drivers, as low-representation clones may actually be the ones responsible for more malignant traits.
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