Science Market Update

High-Throughput Sequencing Improves Cancer Relapse Detection

Posted by Dylan Fitzwater on Tue, Jun 12, 2012

A study by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has revealed that a fast DNA sequencing technique called high-throughput sequencing (HTS) can greatly improve cancer relapse detection in patients.

Their data showed that HTS can detect early signs of possible relapse in twice the number of leukemia patients as compared with flow cytometry, the current technique used by scientists.

high throughput sequencingThe study was lead by Harlan Robins, Ph.D., computational biologist at the Hutchinson Center (Image courtesy of Xconomy). He noted the importance of the investigation when he said, “The ability to predict disease relapse sooner with high-throughput sequencing would give hematologists the option to treat cancer recurrence earlier, offering a greater chance of survival. Longer term, this technology potentially also could be used to initially diagnose leukemia and lymphoma much earlier than we can today.”

The study hinged on comparing the ability of flow cytometry and high-throughput sequencing  in accurately detecting minimal residual disease (MRD) in patients. MRD is a small number of cancerous cells which can remain in a patients body after treatment, it is the largest predictor of cancer relapse.

cancer relapse detection

(desktop flow cytometer)

The study attempted to detect MRD in patients suffering from T lymphoblastic leukemia. High-throughput sequencing identified MRD in 22 patients while flow cytometry only successfully identified it in 12 cases.

This study has proven the viability of a revolutionary laboratory technology that could greatly improve care for cancer patients.


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has pioneered many lifesaving cancer research breakthroughs.  The Institution is the only comprehensive cancer center in Oregon and Washington.  Fred Hutchinson receives more funding from the National Cancer Institute than any other research facility. Although it receives ample funding from federal research grants, many large donations come from private sponsorship.  During the 2011 Fiscal Year, the annual research budget came close to $400 million.

If you are a laboratory equipment company, particularly a supplier of high-throughput sequencing technology, interested in talking to researchers about this new application as well as their general research needs attend Biotechnology Calendar Inc.'s 7th Annual BioResearch Product Faire™ event at the Center in Seattle on October 24, 2012.

High throughput sequencing

Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. is a full-service event marketing and planning company producing on-campus life science research tradeshows nationwide for going on 19 years. We plan and promote each event to bring the best products and services to the best research campuses across the country. Life science researchers, purchasing agents, and lab managers are actively invited to attend to see the latest products and equipment and discuss their laboratory tool and service needs. See our nationwide show schedule for 2012.


Tags: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Genomics

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