Assay Validation of Cell-Free DNA Shallow Whole-Genome Sequencing to Determine Tumor Fraction in Advanced Cancers

Rickles-Young M, Tinoco G, Tsuji J, Pollock S, Haynam M, Lefebvre H, Glover K, Owen DH, Collier KA, Ha G, Adalsteinsson VA, Cibulskis C, Lennon NJ, Stover DG.
J Mol Diagn. , (2024).


Blood-based liquid biopsy is increasingly used in clinical care of patients with cancer, and fraction of tumor-derived DNA in circulation (tumor fraction; TFx) has demonstrated clinical validity across multiple cancer types. To determine TFx, shallow whole-genome sequencing of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) can be performed from a single blood sample, using an established computational pipeline (ichorCNA), without prior knowledge of tumor mutations, in a highly cost-effective manner. We describe assay validation of this approach to facilitate broad clinical application, including evaluation of assay sensitivity, precision, repeatability, reproducibility, pre-analytic factors, and DNA quality/quantity. Sensitivity to detect TFx of 3% (lower limit of detection) was 97.2% to 100% at 1× and 0.1× mean sequencing depth, respectively. Precision was demonstrated on distinct sequencing instruments (HiSeqX and NovaSeq) with no observable differences. The assay achieved prespecified 95% agreement of TFx across replicates of the same specimen (repeatability) and duplicate samples in different batches (reproducibility). Comparison of samples collected in EDTA and Streck tubes from single venipuncture in 23 patients demonstrated that EDTA or Streck tubes were comparable if processed within 8 hours. On the basis of a range of DNA inputs (1 to 50 ng), 20 ng cfDNA is the preferred input, with 5 ng minimum acceptable. Overall, this shallow whole-genome sequencing of cfDNA and ichorCNA approach offers sensitive, precise, and reproductible quantitation of TFx, facilitating assay application in clinical cancer care.