The Application of Long-Read Sequencing to Cancer

Luca Ermini*, Patrick Driguez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cancer is a multifaceted disease arising from numerous genomic aberrations that have been identified as a result of advancements in sequencing technologies. While next-generation sequencing (NGS), which uses short reads, has transformed cancer research and diagnostics, it is limited by read length. Third-generation sequencing (TGS), led by the Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies platforms, employs long-read sequences, which have marked a paradigm shift in cancer research. Cancer genomes often harbour complex events, and TGS, with its ability to span large genomic regions, has facilitated their characterisation, providing a better understanding of how complex rearrangements affect cancer initiation and progression. TGS has also characterised the entire transcriptome of various cancers, revealing cancer-associated isoforms that could serve as biomarkers or therapeutic targets. Furthermore, TGS has advanced cancer research by improving genome assemblies, detecting complex variants, and providing a more complete picture of transcriptomes and epigenomes. This review focuses on TGS and its growing role in cancer research. We investigate its advantages and limitations, providing a rigorous scientific analysis of its use in detecting previously hidden aberrations missed by NGS. This promising technology holds immense potential for both research and clinical applications, with far-reaching implications for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1275
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2024


  • cancer
  • long reads
  • precision oncology
  • short reads
  • third-generation sequencing


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