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FISH: Applications in Cancer Diagnostics

In our previous article, we described about the molecular genetic technique of FISH and enumerated its many advantages in cancer diagnostics. Please refer to FISH in molecular cancer diagnostics: the whats and whys?

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FISH in molecular cancer diagnostics: the whats and whys?

Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) – a relatively new cytogenetic technique - is a DNA hybridization-based technique that generally uses directly-labeled fluorescent DNA probes to target specific chromosomal locations within the nucleus, resulting in colored signals that can be detected using a fluorescent microscope. Alternatively, FISH probes can be indirectly labeled with reporter molecules that are subsequently detected by fluorescent antibodies or other affinity molecules.

FISH is applied to detect genetic aberrations including

  • Characteristic gene fusions or translocations
  • Characteristic gene rearrangements
  • Partial or complete loss of chromosome
  • Presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell

Hence FISH can be applied to diseases covering genetic etiologies as well as cancer –both hematological and solid tumors. Additionally FISH can be applied to basic research applications like gene mapping or in discovery based assays like elucidation of novel oncogenes. Furthermore it can be used to aid in novel biomarker discovery. FISH has now been expanded to screen/analyze whole genome in one-go (in single experiment) using multicolor whole chromosome probe techniques like multiplex FISH or spectral karyotyping.

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FISH automation to Identify Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients - US

May 18, 2016

In a new study, published in Nature’s Blood Cancer Journal, researchers using the Xmatrx FISH automation system identified MCL-1 as a target for therapy in resistant Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). NHL is a type of cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, a part of the immune system, and can spread to various organs including bone marrow, liver and brain. NHL is one of the most common cancers in the United States, accounting for about 4% of all cancers. In 2016 an estimated 73,000 people will be diagnosed with NHL and 20,000 people will die from this cancer in the US. On average, the survival rate for people with NHL (stages I-IV) over five years is 69% and over ten years drops to 59%. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever, belly pain, or chest pain while treatments may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem-cell transplant, or medications. Since there is not a standard screening test for non-symptomatic individuals, NHL is often not diagnosed until the later stages, which have less favorable prognosis rates.

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