Background: The identification of genomic signatures of colorectal cancer for risk stratification requires the study of large series of cancer patients with an extensive clinical follow-up. Multicentric clinical studies represent an ideal source of well documented archived material for this type of analyses.
Methods: To verify if this material is technically suitable to perform matrix-CGH, we performed a pilot study using macrodissected 29 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples collected within the framework of the EORTC-GI/PETACC-2 trial for colorectal cancer. The scientific aim was to identify prognostic genomic signatures differentiating locally restricted (UICC stages II-III) from systemically advanced (UICC stage IV) colorectal tumours.
Results: The majority of archived tissue samples collected in the different centers was suitable to perform matrix-CGH. 5/7 advanced tumours displayed 13q-gain and 18q-loss. In locally restricted tumours, only 6/12 tumours showed a gain on 13q and 7/12 tumours showed a loss on 18q. Interphase-FISH and high-resolution array-mapping of the gain on 13q confirmed the validity of the array-data and narrowed the chromosomal interval containing potential oncogenes.
Conclusion: Archival, paraffin-embedded tissue samples collected in multicentric clinical trials are suitable for matrix-CGH analyses and allow the identification of prognostic signatures and aberrations harbouring potential new oncogenes.