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NTRK Gene Fusion in Middle Eastern Patients With Papillary Thyroid Cancer

By: Julia Fiederlein
Posted: Sunday, August 1, 2021

In populations with high incidence rates of papillary thyroid cancer, information regarding the prevalence of neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase (NTRK) gene fusions and their associated clinicopathologic characteristics is limited. Therefore, Abdul K. Siraj, PhD, of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and colleagues conducted a study to determine the frequency of NTRK gene fusions in a large cohort of Middle Eastern patients. They also sought to investigate the utility of pan-TRK immunohistochemistry as a screening test for this genetic alteration. Their findings were presented during the virtual edition of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2021 (Abstract 2425).

“This study confirms the presence of NTRK fusions in [Middle Eastern patients with papillary thyroid cancer, which were] mostly enriched in [the] BRAF wild-type and pediatric age group,” the investigators commented. “[It also proposed] the usefulness of immunohistochemistry to screen for [patients with NTRK gene fusions who] might benefit from tropomyosin receptor kinase inhibitors.”

The investigators performed fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis and immunohistochemical staining on a cohort of 315 Middle Eastern patients with papillary thyroid cancer. The correlation of NTRK gene fusions with clinicopathologic markers and patient outcomes was determined.

NTRK gene fusions were detected in 6% of patients; the presence of these alterations seemed to be significantly associated with pediatric papillary thyroid cancer, lymph node metastasis, and BRAF wild-type disease. Pan-TRK immunohistochemistry was positive in 9.2% of patients and appeared to be significantly associated with NTRK gene fusion; the sensitivity and specificity were 73.7% and 94.9%, respectively.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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