Comparison of a PNA Clamp PCR and an ARMS/Scorpion PCR Assay for the Detection of K-ras Mutations

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Point mutations in the K-ras gene have been shown to confer resistance against epidermal growth factor receptor-directed therapy of metastatic colorectal cancer. Accordingly, K-ras mutation testing has become mandatory in hospitals offering such treatment. We compared the performance and reagent costs of 2 sensitive methods for detection of K-ras mutations: a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) clamp polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay and a commercially available amplification refractory mutation system/Scorpion (ARMS/S) PCR assay. Both methods were applied in parallel to 101 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor and metastasis samples from patients with colon cancer. The PNA clamp PCR assay detected K-ras mutations in 35% (35 of 101) of the samples, whereas the ARMS/S PCR assay detected mutations in 27% (27 of 101) of them. There was 92% (93 of 101) concordance between the 2 methods and the κ coefficient for the comparison was 0.82. The 8 discordant cases were exclusively positive by PNA clamp PCR. Finally, the reagent costs of the PNA clamp PCR assay were estimated to be at least 20 times lower than the ARMS/S assay. We concluded that the high performance and low costs associated with the PNA clamp PCR assay encourage its use in the administration of personalized epidermal growth factor receptor-directed therapy.

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