Colorectal cancer (CRC) represents one of the most prevalent and lethal malignant neoplasms and every individual of age 50 and above should undergo regular CRC screening. Currently, the most effective preventive screening procedure to detect adenomatous polyps, the precursors to CRC, is colonoscopy. Since every colorectal cancer starts as a polyp, detecting all polyps and removing them is crucial. By exactly doing that, colonoscopy reduces CRC incidence by 80%, however it is an invasive procedure that might have unpleasant and, in rare occasions, dangerous side effects. Despite numerous efforts over the past two decades, a non-invasive screening method for the general population with detection rates for adenomas and CRC similar to that of colonoscopy has not yet been established. Recent advances in next generation sequencing technologies have yet to be successfully applied to this problem, because the detection of rare mutations has been hindered by the systematic biases due to sequencing context and the base calling quality of NGS. We present the first study that applies the high read accuracy and depth of single molecule, real time, circular consensus sequencing (SMRT-CCS) to the detection of mutations in stool DNA in order to provide a non-invasive, sensitive and accurate test for CRC. In stool DNA isolated from patients diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, we are able to detect mutations at frequencies below 0.5% with no false positives. This approach establishes a foundation for a non-invasive, highly sensitive assay to screen the population for CRC and the early stage adenomas that lead to CRC.
Journal: Applied & translational genomics