RNA sequencing for research and diagnostics in clinical oncology
Abstract Molecular diagnostics is becoming one of the major drivers of personalized oncology. With hundreds of different approved anticancer drugs and regimens of their administration, selecting the proper treatment for a patient is at least nontrivial task. This is especially sound for the cases of recurrent and metastatic cancers where the standard lines of therapy failed. Recent trials demonstrated that mutation assays have a strong limitation in personalized selection of therapeutics, consequently, most of the drugs cannot be ranked and only a small percentage of patients can benefit from the screening. Other approaches are, therefore, needed to address a problem of finding proper targeted therapies. The analysis of RNA expression (transcriptomic) profiles presents a reasonable solution because transcriptomics stands a few steps closer to tumor phenotype than the genome analysis. Several recent studies pioneered using transcriptomics for practical oncology and showed truly encouraging clinical results. The possibility of directly measuring of expression levels of molecular drugs’ targets and profiling activation of the relevant molecular pathways enables personalized prioritizing for all types of molecular-targeted therapies. RNA sequencing is the most robust tool for the high throughput quantitative transcriptomics. Its use, potentials, and limitations for the clinical oncology will be reviewed here along with the technical aspects such as optimal types of biosamples, RNA sequencing profile normalization, quality controls and several levels of data analysis.