Genome-wide cell-free DNA mutational integration enables ultra-sensitive cancer monitoring
In many areas of oncology, we lack sensitive tools to track low-burden disease. Although cell-free DNA (cfDNA) shows promise in detecting cancer mutations, we found that the combination of low tumor fraction (TF) and limited number of DNA fragments restricts low-disease-burden monitoring through the prevailing deep targeted sequencing paradigm. We reasoned that breadth may supplant depth of sequencing to overcome the barrier of cfDNA abundance. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of cfDNA allowed ultra-sensitive detection, capitalizing on the cumulative signal of thousands of somatic mutations observed in solid malignancies, with TF detection sensitivity as low as 10−5. The WGS approach enabled dynamic tumor burden tracking and postoperative residual disease detection, associated with adverse outcome. Thus, we present an orthogonal framework for cfDNA cancer monitoring via genome-wide mutational integration, enabling ultra-sensitive detection, overcoming the limitation of cfDNA abundance and empowering treatment optimization in low-disease-burden oncology care.