The aim of this study was to compare the accuracy of the QuantStudio 3D Digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) system and a PCR-based next generation sequencing (NGS) system for detecting a secondary mutation in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene T790M in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients previously diagnosed with EGFR-activating mutations. Twenty-five patients with NSCLC previously treated with EGFR-TKIs were examined. The patients were treated daily with either erlotinib or gefitinib. New biopsies, followed by DNA sequencing on an Ion Torrent systems using the Ion Torrent AmpliSeq Cancer Hotspot Panel and dPCR were performed. A comparison of NGS, sensitive PCR, and dPCR revealed that the sensitivities of NGS and dPCR were similar in this study. As well, T790M was detected in as low as about 5% of mutant allelic frequencies, which represented 5% of the total reads on site mapped reads in NGS and greater than 5% of the dPCR reads, which represented mutant and wild type copies. The strategy in which NGS sequencing is followed by revealed acquired mutation with dPCR may be a reasonable one. We demonstrated the utility of combining NGS and dPCR as a tool for monitoring T790M. NGS and dPCR with formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens might become a standard genomic test for exploring acquired resistance to targeted molecular medicines.
T790M; digital PCR; epidermal growth factor receptor; next generation sequence; re-biopsy
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