Undiscovered country

NuGen Technologies' RNA sequencing method finds rare cancer gene fusions

Although total RNA sequencing can identify oncogenes caused by the fusion of two genes, the method is inefficient and costly because the transcripts from the abnormal genes are often rare. NuGen Technologies Inc. has developed an efficient sequencing technique that can find rare transcripts from fused genes, and can help clinicians identify driver mutations in cancer that might be missed with total RNA sequencing.

Douglas Amorese, VP of R&D at NuGen, said, "Conventional RNA sequencing requires 125 million reads in order to detect a particular gene fusion, and yet with our technology we are able to see gene fusions much more easily with many fewer reads."

Amorese said gene fusions such as the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase oncogene are well known drivers of cancer and are transcribed at levels that can be picked up frequently by conventional RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq), but many transcripts from other gene rearrangements are harder to find.

"The levels of expression of these fusions are really hard to anticipate, but they tend to be expressed at very low levels and that is why it is difficult to pick them up

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