SNaPshot is a new genetic test that looks for mutations in key genes of patients with cancer so they can be given the most effective drugs possible. Just as each person has their own unique DNA, each person’s tumor (or cancer) has it’s own unique genetic composition. This test will help tailor drugs to cancer patients’ individual tumors.
Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital developed SNaPshot to identify mutations at more than 50 sites in 14 key genes in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Researchers studied 546 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and identified mutations (EGFR, KRAS, ALK, BRAF, PIK3CA, HER2 & others) in 51% of samples using the SNaPshot technique. Knowing the genetic make up of a tumor can help tell us which drugs have a better chance of beating a specific cancer. For instance, patients with EGFR mutations typically respond well to drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors, while KRAS mutations are associated with resistance to these drugs. Other “smart drugs” have been created (and continue to be created) to attack specific cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells untouched. So this information is extremely important.
Analysis of the genetic makeup of cancers is becoming more common. But it is usually done for specific, single-gene mutations. SNaPshot is unique and very appealing because it searches for up to 50 multiple gene mutations at once (previously only a small number of mutations could be tested for at 1 time). It can be completed within a relatively short period of time (just a few weeks), has good accuracy, is reasonably priced and the analysis can be done at most any lab using existing equipment making genetic testing accessible to many. Analysis of the genetic makeup of cancers is becoming more common.
While the SNaPshot technique was first used with NSCLC patients, Mass General is beginning to use it to screen other solid tumors such as colorectal, breast and gliomas.
THE BOTTOMLINE: If you have cancer, ask to your doctor about SNaPshot. Currently SNaPshot testing is being offered in a nework of 14 specialist lung cancer hospitals and clinics across the US.