Testing algorithm for identification of patients with TRK fusion cancer

Frédérique Penault-Llorca, Erin R Rudzinski, Antonia R Sepulveda
Journal of Clinical Pathology 2019, 72 (7): 460-467
The neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase ( NTRK ) gene family encodes three tropomyosin receptor kinases (TRKA, TRKB, TRKC) that contribute to central and peripheral nervous system development and function. NTRK gene fusions are oncogenic drivers of various adult and paediatric tumours. Several methods have been used to detect NTRK gene fusions including immunohistochemistry, fluorescence in situ hybridisation, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, and DNA- or RNA-based next-generation sequencing. For patients with TRK fusion cancer, TRK inhibition is an important therapeutic target. Following the FDA approval of the selective TRK inhibitor, larotrectinib, as well as the ongoing development of multi-kinase inhibitors with activity in TRK fusion cancer, testing for NTRK gene fusions should become part of the standard diagnostic process. In this review we discuss the biology of NTRK gene fusions, and we present a testing algorithm to aid detection of these gene fusions in clinical practice and guide treatment decisions.

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