Reliability of Lung Cancer Tissues for Gene Expression Analysis

Research for various cancers has benefitted greatly from the availability of cancer tissues from biobanks. In 2014 alone, The American Cancer Society has estimated that there will be over approximately 224,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed. Out of these cases, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) will account for 85 percent of these new cases. Between 10 to 30 percent of those diagnoses will be in people whose tumors have tested positive for a specific mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).


The problem with this type of tumor is that depending upon the level of mutations, i.e. primary versus secondary mutations, some patients may benefit from tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapies while others will have tumors that are resistant to current FDA TKI therapies. The distinction between the types of tumors is critical to the patient’s overall outcome and what direction of treatment they will be given. However, concerns existed over whether the samples obtained from biobanks were of the quality that were needed to extract high quality RNA that was needed to further study the nature of EGFR mutations.

Study Conducted to Address Concerns

Until recently, there were many misconceptions over whether the right types and the actual quality of specimens of cancer tissues procured from tissue banks were reliable for research use for gene expression analysis. A recent study, “Tissue Banking of Diagnostic Lung Cancer Biopsies for Extraction of High Quality RNA,” published in the July 2010 edition of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology addressed this issue.

The study’s researchers expressed the need to develop a practical approach with tissue collection that would not diminish the high quality RNA that was required for gene expression analysis. They set out to investigate whether the RNA could be reliably extracted from routine diagnostic biopsies for lung cancer. To do this, they requested the test biopsies be preserved as usual by immediately being frozen in liquid nitrogen. Additional biopsies were requested to be taken, but were to be treated before being frozen with an RNA preservative.

What the Researchers Discovered

After comparison of the two methods used, the researchers concluded that the untreated RNA samples provided RNA that was acceptable for gene expression analysis in 72 percent of the biopsies tested. It was concluded that by prior treatment of the samples with a RNA preservative allowed for a higher quality extraction of RNA from the cancer tissues. As a result of this study’s recommendations, higher-quality specimens can be procured for research when required for enhanced RNA studies.

Learn more how ILSbio can meet your requirements for specialized specimens of cancer tissues for your unique study protocols, whether stand or specialized.

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