Penn State College of Medicine researchers have found a signal that could lead to earlier detection and treatment of ovarian cancer.
The Penn State team of scientists led by principal investigator Kathleen M. Mulder, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, and working in conjunction with a researcher from the Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., studied "km23," a protein that helps to direct protein traffic in the cell. Mulders team has found that at least 42 percent of ovarian cancer patient tumor tissues have alterations in km23. No similar alterations in km23 were detectable in normal human tissues, suggesting that it may be both a diagnostic indicator for the development of ovarian cancer and a possible target for cancer therapies. "While only close to half of ovarian cancer patients may have defects in km23, our results are still highly significant because there is no clinically useful screening test available for detection of ovarian cancer," said Mulder.
Additional studies are under way to continue the analyses of km23 abnormalities in specimens from women with ovarian cancer, and to determine whether different km23 alterations exist in other solid tumors, such as breast and colon cancer. "The next step is to develop a screening test for early detection of the km23 alterations in the blood of ovarian cancer patients," Mulder said. In addition, studies are under way to develop drugs that would target km23 and override the defects caused by the km23 alterations in the cancer cells. "The plan is to be able to use the screening test to identify those patients who would benefit from the anti-cancer drugs we will be developing using km23 as the target," Mulder said. "In the pharmaceutical industry, this is often referred to as personalized medicine, meaning that each patient can be checked for alterations in specific genes and their treatment targeted for the alterations specific to their cancer."
Sean Young | EurekAlert!
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