Next-generation sequencing–based clinical testing for lung cancer in Japan
The development of targeted therapies for lung cancer based on the presence of corresponding specific biomarkers has highlighted the need for molecular diagnostic tests capable of the analysis of multiple actionable genetic alterations in a single tumor sample. Amplicon-based next-generation sequencing (NGS)— as opposed to conventional Sanger-based sequencing—has been introduced to facilitate the performance of multiple genomic tests with small amounts of tissue. In Japan, several institutions including the National Cancer Center and university hospitals have initiated NGS-based clinical testing for cancer patients and are able to provide access to investigational drugs or approved targeted agents matched to detected molecular alterations. However, no NGS system has yet been approved for the detection of somatic mutations by the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA) of Japan. Further development of precision medicine in clinical practice in Japan will require changes to the medical curriculum to support the interpretation and annotation of NGS data. In this review, we introduce NGS-based clinical sequencing projects that are ongoing in Japan—in particular, those focusing on lung cancer—and we discuss issues relating to the integration of NGS into clinical practice.