UW-OncoPlex is a multi-marker cancer-sequencing test developed by Colin Pritchard, MD, PhD, and his colleagues at UW Medicine’s Department of Laboratory Medicine. The team has many years of experience using genetic sequencing to assay individual genes.
The availability of high-powered Next Generation Sequencing technology, capable of sequencing entire genomes, has enabled the UW-OncoPlex team to build a panel that analyzes hundreds of genes simultaneously for mutations.
“Actionable” means effective drugs are available for patients
Because UW-OncoPlex is primarily a clinical tool, the focus is on actionable driver mutations. That’s why the UW-OncoPlex panel studies only genes with characteristic mutations known to cause cancer variants for which a highly effective therapy is currently available.
As of January 2013, the UW-OncoPlex panel includes 194 genes. This number will increase on a rolling basis, as the system easily scales up to accommodate new targets.
UW-OncoPlex is built on the Illumina platform, which is capable of sequencing an entire genome quickly and affordably. Using specialized techniques, UW-OncoPlex targets its full power on just a small fraction of the genes it is capable of analyzing. The result is a data set that is accurate, deep, and focused.
UW-OncoPlex evaluates entire genes, not just specific sites on genes of interest. This means that, unlike other systems, it is capable of detecting whole gene deletions, duplications, amplifications, and rearrangements. These whole gene mutations are critical for doctors and patients. “The most clinically relevant mutations inconveniently tend to be the ones that are most difficult to detect,” Dr. Pritchard says.
The UW-OncoPlex report includes both data and a detailed interpretative section to help oncologists make and support their diagnoses.