Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New tool reveals molecular signature of cancer and HIV


’LigAmp’ highly sensitive

Scientists have designed a new molecular tool, dubbed "LigAmp," to pinpoint DNA mutations among thousands of cells, the equivalent of searching for a single typo in an entire library of books. Preliminary studies in a small number of cell lines and body fluids show the ultra-sensitive test may help detect microscopic cancer and HIV drug resistance.
"Other molecular tests make it very difficult to locate a mutation in a particular cell surrounded by thousands of other cells that don’t have the mutation," says James Eshleman, M.D., Ph.D., who led the study with colleagues from the Johns Hopkins Department of Pathology and Kimmel Cancer Center. "LigAmp essentially filters background ’noise’ caused by normal cells and reveals specific mutations."

The researchers say that sensitive tests to locate mutations could identify cancer in patients at high-risk for the disease. Such tests could even help detect a recurrence of cancer by monitoring whether the number of mutations rises above a predetermined threshold value.

In addition to cancer detection, the Hopkins mutation-finder appears able to detect drug-resistant HIV. The team tested it on blood samples from a handful of patients with HIV and located DNA mistakes in the virus itself that make it resistant to certain antiretroviral drugs. Results of analyses of the new test are published in the November issue of Nature Methods.

"We designed LigAmp to improve how we look for extremely subtle variations in viral and cellular DNA," says Eshleman, an associate professor of pathology and oncology and associate director for the DNA Diagnostics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins. "The molecular code of normal cells may look identical to cancerous except for a single rung in the DNA ladder-structure."

The test works by creating a molecular "magnet" with an affinity for the DNA mistake, also known as a point mutation. If the mutation is found, the magnet binds to it and inserts a bacterial gene. The bacterial gene serves as a red flag and produces a fluorescent color visible to powerful computer programs.

In their studies, the Hopkins investigators tested LigAmp on colon cancer cell lines, blood from HIV patients, and fluid from cancer patients’ pancreatic ducts. Single mutations in colon cancer cells and drug-resistant HIV viruses were detected at dilutions of up to 1 in 10,000 molecules. Mutations of the KRAS2 gene were detected in duct fluid samples from three pancreatic cancer patients, which also corresponded to mutations found in their tumors. LigAmp also located a drug-resistance mutation, called K103N, in blood samples from three HIV patients.

Further analysis of LigAmp with larger sample sizes and blinded panels of clinical samples currently is under way. "Some initial studies show that we can simultaneously look for different mutations and quantify the number of mutated molecules present. This may help us build panels of cancer markers for screening and determine low or high levels of mutation."

Funding for this research was provided by the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Johns Hopkins colleagues working with Eshleman are Chanjuan Shi, Susan Eshleman, Dana Jones, Noriyoshi Fukushima, Li Hua, Antony Parker, Charles Yeo, Ralph Hruban, and Michael Goggins.

Vanessa Wasta | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>