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Cancer research


All cancers start with mutated genes. Gene mutations can be inherited or can occur from environmental exposure. Studying genomics, genes, and gene function gives researchers and clinicians insight into how mutated genes impact cancer symptoms, tumor progression, treatment response, and health outcomes.

What causes cancer?

Most cancers are not purely hereditary or only caused by acquired mutations. Many types of cancers are caused by a combination of genetic inheritance, or heredity, and the environment. For example, you have an increased risk for skin cancer if you have family history of skin cancer, but if you never go in the sun, you will be much less likely to develop skin cancer. The mutations acquired from environmental exposure are called somatic mutations. They cannot be passed on to the effected person’s descendants. Somatic mutations differ from germline mutations, which are inherited. You may inherit germline mutations from your parents which increase your risk for skin cancer. When you go in the sun, you can acquire somatic mutations that increase your mutation load, the combination of all somatic and germline mutations. Mutation load can be determined by sequencing, such as exome sequencing, and can be a powerful predictor of a person’s risk for developing cancer or, if they have cancer, their response to treatment.

Cancer research

There are two main areas of focus for cancer research: prevention and treatment. Understanding how cancer develops can help researchers find methods for both areas. Cancer research is furthered by cancer genomics testing. Genomics testing can reveal biomarkers, or genes that indicate risk, to guide clinicians when personalizing immunotherapy. Immunotherapy can boost the immune system of the patient or suppress growth of the tumor, increasing the patient survival rate. Cancer treatment research has two approaches: tumor profiling and mutation load. A patient’s genotype can give clinicians insight into how they will respond to a specific cancer therapy. If the person’s cancer is at an advanced stage, their tumor may have developed some of its own somatic mutations. In this case, the clinician can use the tumor's genomic data to choose the most effective therapy with the least side effects to the patient. Tumor profiling is performed using whole genome sequencing, a genetic sequencing approach to find mutations in the tumor. Tumor-normal profiling compares the genetic profile of tumors to the genetic profile of healthy tissue and can achieve better sensitivity with exome sequencing.

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Next generation sequencing in the clinic

Munich Leukemia Laboratory in Munich, Germany, leads leukemia diagnostics and research in Europe. Read about how their team improved customer turnaround time and report quality using IDT customized xGen Lockdown Panels.

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Cancer sequencing methods

Next generation sequencing (NGS) is a sequencing method that can provide valuable insight into cancer treatment and prevention. There are several approaches to using this technology for cancer research. Whole genome sequencing provides a comprehensive view of the genetic sequence of the sample, whether it be blood, tissue, or tumor. Targeted next generation sequencing focuses on specific areas of the genome that might be more relevant for cancer. For example, exome sequencing provides insight into protein-coding genes and is especially useful when evaluating mutation load. Hybridization capture panels can be customized to include nonprotein coding genes that might be relevant to a specific cancer like leukemia or breast cancer. NGS can include sequencing DNA or RNA. Because RNA can change the way proteins are expressed, RNA sequencing can also help researchers and clinicians learn more about cancer.


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Hand-picked information on targeted sequencing in biomarker development and validation in cancer research.

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Working in an area that would benefit from sequencing? Just starting? See how you can easily improve your workflows and results.

xGen Exome Research Panel v2

The xGen Exome Research Panel v2 consists of 415,115 individually synthesized and quality controlled xGen Lockdown Probes. The Exome Research Panel spans a 34 Mb target region (19,433 genes) of the human genome and covers 39 Mb of end-to-end tiled probe space.

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xGen Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cancer Panel

The xGen Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Cancer Panel v1.0 comprises 11,731 xGen Lockdown Probes, spanning 1.19 Mb of the human genome, for targeted enrichment of >260 genes associated with AML, to provide more efficient detection of disease-causing mutations.

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NGS Discovery Pools

NGS Discovery Pools allow you to build custom panels quickly at a fraction of the cost of conventional custom panels.

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xGen Inherited Diseases Panel

The xGen Inherited Diseases Panel enables deeper sequencing of genomic regions containing genes and SNPs associated with inherited diseases. The gene list is based on the HGMD® (Human Gene Mutation Database) repository of known inherited disease-causing mutations.

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