Molecular assays have been routinely applied to improve diagnosis for the last 25 years. Assays that guide therapy have a similar history; however, their evolution has lacked the focus on analytic integrity that is required for the molecularly targeted therapies of today. New molecularly targeted agents require assays of greater precision/quantitation to predict the likelihood of response, i.e., to identify patients whose tumors will respond, while at the same time excluding and protecting those patients whose tumors will not respond or in whom treatment will cause unacceptable toxicity. The handling of tissue has followed a fit-for-purpose approach focused on appropriateness for diagnostic needs, which is less rigorous than the demands of new molecular assays that interrogate DNA, RNA, and proteins in a quantitative, multiplex manner. There is a new appreciation of the importance and fragility of tissue specimens as the source of analytes to direct therapy. By applying a total test paradigm and defining and measuring sources of variability in specimens, we can develop a set of specifications that can be incorporated into the clinical-care environment to ensure that a specimen is appropriate for analysis and will return a true result.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research