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ecTMB: a robust method to estimate and classify tumor mutational burden

By Lijing Yao, Yao Fu, Marghoob Mohiyuddin, Hugo YK Lam

Posted 08 Apr 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/602060 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-61575-1)

Tumor Mutational Burden (TMB) is a measure of the abundance of somatic mutations in a tumor, which has been shown to be an emerging biomarker for both anti-PD-(L)1 treatment and prognosis. Nevertheless, multiple challenges still hinder the adoption of TMB for clinical decision-making. The key challenges are the inconsistency of TMB measurement among assays and a lack of meaningful threshold for TMB classification. We describe a powerful and flexible statistical framework for estimation and classification of TMB (ecTMB). ecTMB uses an explicit background mutation model to predict TMB robustly and consistently. In addition to the two known TMB subtypes, TMB-high and TMB-low, we discovered a novel TMB subtype, named TMB-extreme, which was significantly associated with patient survival outcome. This discovery enabled ecTMB to classify samples to biologically and clinically relevant subtypes defined by TMB.

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