Dr. Li Discusses ALK Gene Mutation Tests

Dr. Tianhong (Tina) Li from UC Davic Cancer Center Discusses ALK Gene Mutation Tests

Tianhong (Tina) Li, MD, PhD, assistant professor, co-director of Phase I Program, UC Davis Cancer Center, mentions there are currently 4 tests available to detect an abnormal ALK gene. Patients with ALK-­­­positive non-small cell lung cancer are eligible to receive crizotinib (Xalkori).

The tests currently available include the FDA approved crizotinib companion diagnostic test Vysis ALK Break Apart FISH Probe Kit, real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), molecular profiling testing, and immunohistochemistry or IHC.

The FDA approved Vysis test will be the first option for detection, but other options may also be used. As time progresses new tests need to be made available that are easier to use. The main drawbacks of the fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) tests are that they are very labor intensive and require special laboratories to complete. Research in the future will examine new testing options that require less work and are easier to conduct.