Wednesday, March 14, 2018

At AGBT, NGS data analysis in the spotlight

At the AGBT 2018 meeting in Orlando, the QIAGEN team soaked up the latest NGS advances.

AGBT is a marathon of cutting-edge scientific talks and posters, networking events, and legendary parties. One of our favorite talks came from John Martignetti, who spoke about efforts to develop a liquid biopsy for endometrial cancer to spare women the invasive, painful surgical procedure used today. (If you missed it, check out our profile of Martignetti’s work using IPA to detect a promising new biomarker for ovarian cancer patients.) At AGBT, he shared results of a prospective study of 107 patients. For all cases diagnosed through traditional means as having cancer, the liquid biopsy using uterine lavage fluid also detected driver mutations associated with cancer. It wasn’t all clear cut, though. One patient who had no signs of cancer according to traditional tests was found to have cancer-associated driver mutations from the liquid biopsy. Martignetti’s talk got attendees considering the medical challenges associated with cases like this, where there are no established standards of care yet.

There were many other excellent talks, but of course we’re partial to the ones that included new data analysis tools. Christina Curtis from Stanford presented an algorithm trained to differentiate between tumors evolving neutrally or under selective pressures, which could have implications for understanding metastasis and other traits of cancer progression. Michael Schatz from Johns Hopkins University presented the CrossStitch pipeline for rapid, reference-guided assembly of human genomes based on many different types of sequencing data. And Ami Bhatt from Stanford introduced Athena, a custom assembler for de novo metagenomics.

We’d like to thank the many attendees who spent time with us at the conference. It was a pleasure to hear about your research and let you know how QIAGEN’s bioinformatics tools might help. And we thoroughly enjoyed seeing so many people sporting their “Explore the RNA Universe” T shirts for the outer-space-themed closing party!


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