The multi-target stool DNA (mt-sDNA) test screens for colorectal cancer by analyzing DNA methylation/mutation and hemoglobin markers to algorithmically derive a qualitative result. A new panel of highly discriminant candidate methylated DNA markers (MDM) was recently developed. Performance of the novel MDM panel, with hemoglobin, was evaluated in a simulated screening population using archived stool samples weighted to early-stage colorectal cancer and prospectively collected advanced precancerous lesions (APL). Marker selection study (MSS) and separate preliminary independent verification studies (VS) were conducted utilizing samples from multi-center, case–control studies. Sample processing included targeted MDM capture, bisulfite conversion, and MDM quantitation. Fecal hemoglobin was quantified using ELISA. Samples were stratified into 75%/25% training-testing sets; model outcomes were cross-validated 1,000 times. All laboratory operators were blinded. The MSS included 232 cases (120 colorectal cancer/112 APLs) and 490 controls. The VS featured 210 cases (112 colorectal cancer/98 APLs) and 567 controls; APLs were 86.7% adenomas and 13.3% sessile serrated lesions (SSL). Average age was 65.5 (cases) and 63.2 (controls) years. Mean sensitivity in the VS from cross-validation was 95.2% for colorectal cancer and 57.2% for APLs, with specificities of 89.8% (no CRC/APLs) and 92.4% (no neoplasia). Subgroup analyses showed colorectal cancer sensitivities of 93.4% (stage I) and 94.2% (stage II). APL sensitivity was 82.9% for high-grade dysplasia, 73.4% for villous lesions, 49.8% for tubular lesions, and 30.2% for SSLs. These data support high sensitivity and specificity for a next-generation mt-sDNA test panel. Further evaluation of assay performance will be characterized in a prospective, multi-center clinical validation study (NCT04144738).

Prevention Relevance:

This study highlights performance of the next-generation mt-sDNA test, which exhibits high sensitivity and specificity for detecting colorectal cancer and APLs. This noninvasive option has potential to increase screening participation and clinical outcomes. A multi-center, clinical validation trial is underway.

See related commentary by XXXX et al., p. xxxx

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