The Food and Drug Administration has authorized a new tumor profiling test that can identify a larger number of genetic mutations than available in any other test previously reviewed, the agency has announced.

The tumor profiling test, developed at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and known as MSK-IMPACT (Integrated Mutation Profiling of Actionable Cancer Targets), is a custom targeted sequencing platform that uses exon capture and sequencing, so-called next-generation sequencing, to identify point mutations, small insertions and deletions, and microsatellite instability in tumor specimens. The assay involves hybridization capture and deep sequencing of all protein coding exons of 468 cancer-associated genes, as well as molecular changes in a tumor’s genomic makeup, according to the FDA announcement .

Unlike cancer diagnostic tests designed to determine the presence of one cancer biomarker for use with a single drug, the IMPACT test compares tumor tissue to a “normal” tissue or cell sample from the same patient to find genetic alterations that could potentially guide treatment options. However, the FDA said, the results of IMPACT are “not conclusive” for choosing a corresponding treatment.

Next-generation sequencing technologies can examine “hundreds, if not millions, of DNA variants at a time,” Jeffrey Shuren, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the announcement. “We are only at the beginning of realizing the true potential for these devices to assist patients and their health care providers in learning about the genetic underpinnings of their disease.”

Evaluations of IMPACT suggest the assay is “highly accurate” with a greater than 99% capability of detecting a mutation at a frequency of approximately 5%, according to the FDA.

In addition, detection of molecular changes, including microsatellite instability, were concordant more than 92% of the time when compared with traditional detection methods, the agency said.

Along with the marketing authorization for IMPACT, which was granted to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the agency announced that the New York State Department of Health has been accredited as an FDA third-party reviewer of in vitro diagnostics similar to IMPACT.

That action “paves the way” for efficient review and availability of other next-generation sequencing–based cancer profiling tools.

Allowing third parties to review next-generation sequencing–based tumor profiling tests will “reduce the burden on test developers and streamline the regulatory assessment of these types of innovative products,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in the announcement.