Kevin C. Halling, M.D., Ph.D., a consultant in Mayo Clinic's Division of Laboratory Genetics and Genomics, spoke at the Individualizing Medicine Conference: Advancing Care through Genomics, on RNA sequencing.
To further guide cancer treatment, researchers are diving even more deeply into the expressed genes of tumor cells, using RNA sequencing. It's a technology that provides a wealth of information, including detecting the fusion of two previously separate genes. Fusions of cancer-related genes can contribute to tumor formation and progression.
"Identifying gene fusions can help with diagnosis and can help predict whether a person will respond to certain cancer therapies," says Dr. Halling.
RNA sequencing is currently used mostly to help with diagnosis of sarcomas — cancers that occur in the bones and soft tissues. But it also shows promise for the diagnosis of certain blood and lung cancers with gene fusions.
"There's so much power to this RNA sequencing technology. It seems like almost every time we run it, we're discovering something new," Dr. Halling says. "There's a lot we have to discover yet before we can understand the precise applications for this technology. But I'm confident that drugs are going to become available that work on these fusions. The work we're doing now will pay off later."