APR 06, 2016 01:30 PM PDT

The application of molecular diagnostics to stained cytology smears

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  • Associate Professor of Pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
      Dr. Maja Oktay, MD is a pathologist in Bronx, New York. She is currently licensed to practice medicine in New York. She is an Assistant Professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
    • Associate Professor of Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
        Professor Sumanta Goswami received his PhD in biochemistry at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. After conducting postdoctoral research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he became an assistant professor in the biology department of Yeshiva College in 2006. He also has a secondary appointment in the department of anatomy and structural biology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.


      Detection of mutational alterations is important for guiding treatment decisions of lung non-small cell carcinomas and thyroid nodules with atypical cytologic findings. Inoperable lung tumors requiring further testing for staging and thyroid lesions often are diagnosed using only cytology material. Molecular diagnostic tests of these samples typically are performed on cell blocks; however, insufficient cellularity of cell blocks is a limitation for test performance. In addition, some of the fixatives used while preparing cell blocks often introduces artifacts for mutation detection. Here, we applied qClamp xenonucleic technology and quantitative RT-PCR to cells micro-dissected directly from stained cytology smears to detect common alterations including mutations and translocations in non-small cell carcinomas and thyroid lesions. By using this approach, we achieved a 1% molecular alteration detection rate from as few as 50 cells. Ultrasensitive methods of molecular alteration detection similar to the one described here will be increasingly important for the evaluation of molecular alterations in clinical scenarios when only small tissue samples are available.

      Learning objectives:

      • Understand the processing of cytology samples and how it relates to molecular diagnostics
      • Benefits of using cytology smears for molecular diagnostics
      • The use of qClamp technology on cytology smears
      • Potential for use of cytology samples for development of future molecular applications

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