nCounter® PanCancer Pathways Panel - White Paper [PDF]
All cancers must evolve a means of sustaining self-sufficient growth and evading apoptosis1,2. This process typically occurs via the accumulation of mutational events that confer a growth advantage through deregulation of the molecular pathways controlling cell growth and cell fate3. Mutations in over 100 genes are known to drive tumorgenesis and within any given tumor there are between 2-8 mutated “driver genes” modulating the activity of critical molecular pathways4. Studying the deregulation of molecular pathways impacted by mutational events as well as monitoring expression of these driver genes is critical to gaining a complete understanding of the biology underlying cancer. Molecular pathways are an attractive organizing principle for analysis of gene expression data as they provide a means to combine the noisy information in individual genes into stable and meaningful representations of fundamental biological processes5. Gene expression profiling has long been used within the cancer field to stratify cell populations and classify tumors6–8. This powerful ability is largely due to the fact that the gene expression state of a cell or tissue contains information about the biological processes occurring within a sample9. Pathway-based analyses provide a holistic view of the changes to fundamental biological processes allowing for deregulation of regulatory pathways to be linked back to “driver gene” status.