The findings, published online December 1 in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, could lead to a simple blood test to detect lung cancer in its earliest phases, when it can be most successfully treated.
Wistar investigators Louise C. Showe, Ph.D., and Michael K. Showe Ph.D., and colleagues examined gene expression profiles in blood samples from more than 200 patients with lung cancer or other, non-malignant, lung diseases. Focusing on non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and the large at-risk population of smokers and ex-smokers, the researchers sought to determine whether lung tumors—even at the earliest stages—leave a gene expression signature in circulating blood cells. Recent studies have shown that in some late-stage cancers, an immune system response can be detected in the blood which can contain information on responsiveness to therapy or identify markers associated with prognosis.
For the study, peripheral blood was drawn from lung disease patients at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (Penn) and the New York University School of Medicine from 2003 through 2007, and the gene expression patterns in the samples were analyzed at Wistar. The team was able to identify a 29-gene “signature” that separated 137 patients with NSCLC tumors from 91 patient controls with non-malignant lung conditions, with 86 percent accuracy. Immune cells, which normally function to fight tumors, showed certain changes in the patients with malignant tumors that distinguished them from those of patients with other lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema and patients with benign lung nodules.
When 18 NSCLC patients had peripheral blood drawn before surgery and again two to five months after their tumors were surgically removed, 13 of the samples showed a decrease in or complete disappearance of the tumor gene signature present in the pre-surgery samples after tumor removal. This finding demonstrates that the tumor presence can be communicated to the peripheral immune system and this signal can be detected in the gene expression patterns in peripheral blood.
Lung cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in both men and women in the United States, accounting for 162,000 deaths in 2008, more than any other cancer. Early diagnosis followed by surgery presently is the most effective treatment for NSCLC, which accounts for 75 percent of lung tumors. Detecting cancer at its earliest stages would greatly improve the likelihood of survival; however, no simple and accurate screening test such as mammography for breast cancer or colonoscopy for colon cancer exists for lung cancer. In addition, early-stage lung cancers show few symptoms and tend to spread rapidly before they are found.
With further study, the findings may serve as the basis for developing a simpler screening test for lung cancer. “People routinely get blood taken at their doctor’s offices, for cholesterol levels, diabetes, and other standard tests, so why not utilize this method to screen for other conditions such as the risk of developing lung cancer?” says Louise Showe, a professor in Wistar’s Molecular and Cellular Oncology and Immunology programs and director of its genomics facility. “Such a test could be especially useful for remote areas where typically technologies that are used in urban centers are not available. In addition, this test could be useful in a clinical setting to help to decide whether a small tumor detected on an x-ray is likely to be malignant.”
The team is working to develop a simpler method for collecting and processing blood samples for analysis. In addition, the clinical collaborators are gathering follow-up data from patients which will be used to analyze the data for signatures of recurrence and/or response to therapy. The researchers are also conducting additional analyses to further explore the basis for the changes in the peripheral immune system after tumor removal.
The lead author on the Cancer Research publication is Michael K. Showe, Ph.D. Other researchers involved in the study from The Wistar Institute include Andrew V. Kossenkov, Ph.D.; Elena V. Nikonova, M.D.; Celia Chang, Ph.D.; Calen Nichols and David A. Speicher, Ph.D. Collaborators from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine include Steven M. Albelda, M.D.; Anil Vachani, M.D.; John Kucharczuk, M.D.; Bao Tran and Elliot Wakeam and from the New York University School of Medicine William N. Rom, M.D., M.P.H.; and Ting an Yie, M.S.
This study was support by Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) Tobacco Settlement Grants, the PA DOH Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program, the National Cancer Institute, and a Wistar Cancer Center Support Grant.
The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the country, Wistar has long held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. The Wistar Institute: Today’s Discoveries – Tomorrow’s Cures. On the Web at www.wistar.org.
Michael K. Showe | Newswise Science News
23.03.2017 | Technische Universität München
How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences