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Watch out, flow cytometry — it's high-throughput sequencing's turn to shine. According to a new study published in Science Translational Medicine, DNA sequencing-based technology is better able to spot residual disease in leukemia patients who have undergone treatment with chemotherapy than flow cytometry, reports Xconomy's Luke Timmerman. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington, and Adaptive Biotechnologies — a Hutch spin-off company — teamed up to test Adaptive's ImmunoSEQ — technology that was built to detect mutated T-cells and B-cells that lead to leukemia or lymphoma. Until now, researchers have used flow cytometry to detect "minimal residual disease" in patients who had undergone chemotherapy, in order to determine how much cancer was left and what the prognosis might be, Timmerman says. In the study of 43 leukemia patients, ImmunoSEQ was able to detect residual disease in 22 patients, compared to flow cytometry which detected residual cancer in 12 patients.

"[Adaptive] uses San Diego-based Illumina's high-speed HiSeq DNA sequencing instruments, and it has custom chemical reagents and software that enable researchers to look specifically at DNA sequences of these variable T and B cells," Timmerman says. "Adaptive is hopeful that today's findings will help open that door to the diagnostic world. … Cost and turnaround time for the Adaptive test are key questions that will go a long way toward determining whether its technology makes it into a new standard of care."

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