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Moving towards a local testing solution for undetermined thyroid fine-needle aspirates: validation of a novel custom DNA-based NGS panel

Abstract

Aims In thyroid cytopathology, the undetermined diagnostic categories still pose diagnostic challenges. Although next-generation sequencing (NGS) is a promising technique for the molecular testing of thyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) specimens, access to such technology can be difficult because of its prohibitive cost and lack of reimbursement in countries with universal health coverage. To overcome these issues, we developed and validated a novel custom NGS panel, Nexthyro, specifically designed to target 264 clinically relevant mutations involved in thyroid tumourigenesis. Moreover, in this study, we compared its analytical performance with that of our previous molecular testing strategy.

Methods The panel, which includes 15 genes (BRAF, EIF1AX, GNAS, HRAS, IDH1, KRAS, NF2, NRAS, PIK3CA, PPM1D, PTEN, RET, DICER1, CHEK2, TERT promoter), was validated with a cell-line derived reference standard and 72 FNA archival samples previously tested with the 7-gene test.

Results Nexthyro yielded 100% specificity and detected mutant alleles at levels as low as 2%. Moreover, in 5/72 (7%) FNAs, it detected more clinically relevant mutations in BRAF and RAS genes compared with the 7-gene test. Nexthyro also revealed better postsequencing metrics than the previously adopted commercial ‘generic’ NGS panel.

Conclusion Our comparative analysis indicates that Nexthyro is a reliable NGS panel. The study also implies that a custom-based solution for routine thyroid FNA is sustainable at the local level, allowing patients with undetermined thyroid nodules affordable access to NGS.

  • thyroid neoplasms
  • cytological techniques
  • pathology
  • molecular

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information.

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