The analytical validation of the Oncotype DX Recurrence Score assay

26 Sep 2016
Frederick L Baehner

In vitro diagnostic multivariate index assays are highly complex molecular assays that can provide clinically actionable information regarding the underlying tumour biology and facilitate personalised treatment. These assays are only useful in clinical practice if all of the following are established: analytical validation (i.e., how accurately/reliably the assay measures the molecular characteristics), clinical validation (i.e., how consistently/accurately the test detects/predicts the outcomes of interest), and clinical utility (i.e., how likely the test is to significantly improve patient outcomes). In considering the use of these assays, clinicians often focus primarily on the clinical validity/utility; however, the analytical validity of an assay (e.g., its accuracy, reproducibility, and standardisation) should also be evaluated and carefully considered. This review focuses on the rigorous analytical validation and performance of the Oncotype DX® Breast Cancer Assay, which is performed at the Central Clinical Reference Laboratory of Genomic Health, Inc. The assay process includes tumour tissue enrichment (if needed), RNA extraction, gene expression quantitation (using a gene panel consisting of 16 cancer genes plus 5 reference genes and quantitative realtime RT-PCR), and an automated computer algorithm to produce a Recurrence Score® result (scale: 0–100). This review presents evidence showing that the Recurrence Score result reported for each patient falls within a tight clinically relevant confidence interval. Specifically, the review discusses how the development of the assay was designed to optimise assay performance, presents data supporting its analytical validity, and describes the quality control and assurance programmes that ensure optimal test performance over time.

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