"Our study demonstrates that systems medicine approaches (i.e., quantitative analysis of multiple factors in patients' samples combined with mathematical modeling) have a significant advantage over other approaches in predicting therapy responses in patients," said Jochen J.M. Prehn, Ph.D., director of the Centre for Systems Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is believed to be a hallmark of cancer resistance to chemotherapy. Prior research has shown that the key step in apoptosis, the process that leads to mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP) is controlled by different members of the BCL-2 family of proteins. Some family members promote apoptosis and some prevent it. In addition, those proteins that have the same effects on apoptosis work in parallel and can substitute for each other, which makes it difficult to predict whether cells are likely or unlikely to die.
To better inform decision-making in chemotherapy for colorectal cancer, Prehn and colleagues developed a tool that would incorporate patient-specific, molecular data sets. They studied the BCL-2 proteins, determined levels of the individual proteins and put the levels into a mathematical model that calculated what genotoxic stress level is needed to achieve apoptosis.
"Resistance of colon cancer cells in culture, as well as treatment responses of patients with stages 2 and 3 colon cancer, were critically determined by the calculated stress level required to undergo apoptosis," Prehn said. "We found that individual patients had a high degree of heterogeneity in BCL-2 family protein levels and that this was a potential cause of the success or failure of adjuvant chemotherapy."
Prehn and colleagues tested a clinical decision-making tool that they call DR_MOMP to determine its use in predicting treatment responses in patients with colon cancer. Using DR_MOMP, they were able to robustly predict patient outcome.
"This finding may provide a clinical decision-making tool that enables predictions of treatment responses in patients with colon cancer," Prehn said. "As we provide a quantitative, dynamic analysis of the process of apoptosis, we can also calculate, for individual patients, the therapeutic window."
The model could help predict how much genotoxic stress is required for a cancer cell to die before normal tissue is affected. Prehn and colleagues hope to validate DR_MOMP in other cancers and in larger patient cohorts.
"We need to develop easy and accessible protein profiling and modeling platforms that enable the implementation of this new technology in clinical trials and in pathology laboratories," Prehn said.Follow the AACR on Twitter: @aacr #aacr
For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org
Jeremy Moore | EurekAlert!
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Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
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The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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