New MIT Technology may Help Make Cancer Biomarker Detection Much Easier December 16, 2012
A new technology developed at MIT may help to make biomarker detection much easier. The researchers, led by Sangeeta Bhatia, have developed nanoparticles that can home to a tumor and interact with cancer proteins to produce thousands of biomarkers, which can then be easily detected in the patient's urine. "There's a desperate search for biomarkers, for early detection or disease prognosis, or looking at how the body responds to therapy," says Bhatia, who is also a member of MIT's David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. She adds that the search has been complicated because genomic studies have revealed that many cancers, such as breast cancer, are actually groups of several diseases with different genetic signatures. The MIT team, working with researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, described the new technology in a paper appearing in Nature Biotechnology on Dec. 16.
Scientists Discover FAIM Molecule as Potential Biomarker for Bone Marrow Cancer Dec. 12, 2012
Singapore scientists have identified FAIM, a molecule that typically prevents cell death, as a potential biomarker to identify an incurable form of cancer in the bone marrow. Patients with this form of cancer usually do not get cured with current standard treatments such as chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation, with an average survival of only about four years. FAIM could thus be a therapeutic target in these patients, as drugs developed to target the molecule could destroy multiple myeloma cells and hence eradicate the cancer.
Scientists Find that Drug Resistance Biomarker could Improve Cancer Treatment Nov. 21, 2012
Cancer therapies often have short-lived benefits due to the emergence of genetic mutations that cause drug resistance. A key gene that determines resistance to a range of cancer drugs has been reported in a study published by Cell Press November 21st in the journal Cell. The study reveals a biomarker that can predict responses to cancer drugs and offers a strategy to treat drug-resistant tumors based on their genetic signature.
Promising New Biomarker for Aggressiveness of Prostate Cancer Oct. 23, 2012
Research out of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) supports the adoption of a new biomarker to measure the aggressiveness of primary prostate tumors. A team of investigators from three institutions, led by Shahriar Koochekpour, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Cancer Genetics, Urology and Oncology in RPCI's Department of Cancer Genetics, has for the first time produced data showing that levels of serum glutamate, a naturally occurring nonessential amino acid that plays a key role in cancer metabolism, are increased in patients with primary and metastatic prostate cancer. "Comparing normal, primary and metastatic prostate cancer tissues, we discovered that glutamate receptor is expressed at very high levels in primary and metastatic tumors, but at very weak or undetectable levels in benign prostate tissues," notes Dr. Koochekpour. "And serum glutamate was detected at increased levels proportional to Gleason score, the standard index for rating prostate cancer aggressiveness and prognosis in patients with primary tumors."
The researchers also demonstrated, for the first time, that glutamate deprivation significantly decreases the growth, migration and invasiveness of prostate cancer cell lines, suggesting potential clinical applications. They also report that the glutamate antagonist riluzole (Rilutek), a well-tolerated oral medicine used for mood and anxiety disorders, depression and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), induces cell death while inhibiting the progression and motility of human prostate cancer cells.
Biological Markers Increase Clinical Trial Success Rate of New Breast Cancer Drugs Oct. 1, 2012
Using biological markers -- genetic characteristics that are associated with some patients with breast cancer -- can increase the success rate of clinical trials for breast cancer drugs by almost 50 percent, says new research from the University of Toronto Mississauga. "It's been increasingly difficult for pharmaceutical companies to bring new drugs to market," says Jayson Parker, a faculty member in the Department of Biology and medical biotechnology analyst at the University of Toronto. "On average, about 80 per cent of drugs fail at some point in the clinical trial process."
According to Parker, some researchers have hypothesized that in the era of personalized medicine, biological markers, or biomarkers, could be used to improve clinical trial success rates and help bring more drugs to market faster. To test this hypothesis, Parker and his team examined the clinical trial success rates for drugs tested on breast cancer patients who have a particular biomarker (HER2). Biomarkers form part of the pathway involved in cancer cell development and can influence how a patient responds to therapy. When the team compared clinical trials that targeted patients with the HER2 biomarker to those that did not, they found the success rate of drug development increased from 15 per cent to 23 per cent.