Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Proteomics research aids cancer diagnosis and treatment


A new technique may allow physicians to monitor patients’ responses to molecularly targeted drugs, according to researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) *. The finding was one of three advances in proteomics – the study of proteins within cells – scheduled to be announced by researchers from the NCI-FDA Clinical Proteomics Program in a press briefing at the 94th Annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, which was canceled.

Monitoring Cancer Treatment

In the first study, the researchers successfully identified specific proteins that may be useful in monitoring patients treated for breast or ovarian cancer. Their approach, based on changing levels of active proteins inside tumor cells, could help physicians determine early during treatment whether a particular drug is working effectively for an individual cancer patient.

"The results of our study suggest this approach may help us tailor treatment to individual patients," noted Virginia Espina, M.S., M.T. (ASCP), NCI, the lead investigator on the study.

Because molecularly targeted drugs are designed to target specific molecules that have gone awry in cancer cells, researchers can predict which of the cell’s many complex signaling pathways these drugs are likely to affect. In ongoing studies at NCI, researchers are using proteomic technology to monitor the key pathways likely to be influenced by the molecularly targeted drugs Gleevec®, Herceptin®, and Iressa®.

To monitor changes in tumor cell proteins, the researchers isolated cancer cells from tumor biopsies and measured the level of various proteins involved in the signaling pathways targeted by the drugs. The scientists measured not only the total amount of each protein, but also how much of the protein was in its active form. These proteins were measured prior to treatment and at selected times after treatment.

The researchers found that prior to treatment, patients with breast cancer who had a poor clinical outcome tended to have more of the active form of a protein known as AKT, which promotes cell survival. Treatment with Herceptin®, however, resulted in a change in the relative amount of the active form of AKT, enabling tumor cell death.

"Treatment with Herceptin® appears to alter the level of active AKT in tumors. We may be able to measure the degree of this change in patients who are receiving treatment to determine whether a drug that inhibits this signaling pathway is best for their individual cancer," said Lance Liotta, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Clinical Proteomics Program and the senior NCI investigator on the study.

The researchers expect to be able to apply the proteomic approach to monitor the treatment of other cancers with molecularly targeted drugs, but further research is required to identify the best proteins to measure in those tumors.

Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer

In another study, in collaboration with Correlogic Systems Inc., NCI and FDA scientists have improved the NCI/FDA/Correlogic method of ovarian cancer diagnosis currently under evaluation**. The approach uses Correlogic’s artificial intelligence computer programs to analyze the patterns of proteins in the blood and can detect the presence of disease even at early stages. In a previously published study, researchers used the technique to successfully differentiate between blood samples taken from patients with ovarian cancer and those from unaffected individuals.

The researchers discovered patterns of proteins that correctly identify 100 percent of blood samples as being from either unaffected individuals or patients with ovarian cancer. This is an improvement on the previous analysis, which correctly identified 100 percent of the samples from patients with cancer, but only 95 percent of the non-cancer samples. The researchers analyzed the proteins using mass spectroscopy, a technique that sorts proteins and other molecules based on their weight and electrical charge; they attribute the improvement in specificity primarily to the use of a higher resolution mass spectrometer in the most recent study. "The increased resolution allows us to distinguish more features within the patterns generated from the serum samples," said Timothy Veenstra, Ph.D., of the Mass Spectrometry Center at NCI-Frederick.

Visualizing Protein Patterns

The NCI-FDA team has also developed new tools for visualizing and analyzing protein patterns***. Beyond identifying the presence of ovarian cancer and other diseases, these tools may allow researchers to determine how far the disease has progressed by matching specific proteomic patterns to a particular stage.

"The new tools improve upon previous methods of identifying discriminatory protein patterns by allowing researchers to visualize the entire set of proteins in a single view, as well as zoom in and out to focus on regions of interest within the data," said Emanuel Petricoin III, Ph.D., co-director of the Clinical Proteomics Program and the senior FDA researcher on the project.

"Using these visualization tools, the identification of proteomic patterns that aid in disease diagnosis can be done with greater sensitivity and accuracy," said Donald Johann Jr., M.D., of the NCI-FDA Clinical Proteomics Program, lead investigator of the study. "This new method reduces the risk of error, increases our productivity, and provides an efficient method to analyze large sets of protein data.

NCI Press Office | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

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 >>>