Researchers in the UK have sequenced genes from tumors that are nearly 100 years old, Nature News reports.
Sam Behjati sifted through the archive of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children to identify tumors for sequencing, and Nature News notes that he's particularly interested in uncovering archived rare cancers to boost sample numbers for sequencing studies.
As he and his colleagues reported recently in Lancet Oncology, they identified three FFPE-preserved samples from the 1920s for sequencing — by that time period, terms used to describe tumors could more easily be translated into modern terminology, Nature News adds. They performed targeted sequencing of 366 cancer-related genes from DNA isolated from an embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a lymphocytic neoplasm, and a cellular capillary hemangioma.
For the embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma and the lymphocytic neoplasm, Behjati and his team found canonical mutations, while for the cellular capillary hemangioma, they uncovered an ASXL1 nonsense mutation. ASXL1 mutations, as the researchers pointed out in Lancet Oncology, have been linked previously to hematological tumors, though not to solid tumors.
"FFPE preservation of tumor tissue remarkably maintains DNA for almost 100 years in a condition that is suitable for massively parallel sequencing," he and his colleagues write, adding that it also "paves the way for studying ultra-rare tumors."