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Study Says New Biomarker May Predict Mesothelioma Survival, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

A team of researchers at Australia’s University of New South Wales say MUC1, a glycoprotein found on the outer surface of epithelial cells, is overexpressed in peritoneal mesothelioma. MUC1 is a mucin, a type of protein that helps protect the body against infection by binding with pathogens in the extracellular space and preventing them from entering cells.

Although MUC1 overexpression can predict poor survival in most cancers, and is often used to help diagnose mesothelioma, the Australian study is the first to measure its prognostic significance in mesothelioma, a rare cancer brought on by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma most often occurs on the membrane that lines the lungs but peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. It accounts for about 25 to 30 percent of mesothelioma cases and, like all types of mesothelioma, is usually deadly.

Of the 42 peritoneal mesothelioma patients in the new study, 38 showed overexpression of MUC1. The significance of that overexpression was measured using the Kaplan-Meier method. Mesothelioma patients with a MUC1 level (based on immunohistochemical tests) between 5 and 8 had the lowest survival in all subtypes of tumors. Of the different variables tested – including tumor subtype, patient gender, peritoneal cancer index, and age at diagnosis – only a high MUC1 level and being over 60 years old at the time of diagnosis were consistently associated with poor outcomes.

Writing on their findings in the International Journal of Biological Markers, the authors conclude, “MUC1 evaluation by immunohistochemistry may serve as a useful prognostic tool in malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, but may need further confirmation in larger patients’ cohort.” Earlier this year, the same team of researchers determined that high expression of BCL2, a protein that helps regulate cell death (apoptosis), is associated with a good prognosis for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma.

In clinical practice, biomarkers are often used to help plan a treatment strategy for mesothelioma and other hard-to-treat cancers.

The original study appears in a recent issue of the International Journal of Biological Markers. (Pillai, K, et al, “MUC1 has prognostic significance in malignant peritoneal mesothelioma”, July 4, 2013, International Journal of Biological Markers, Epub head of print. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23828409)

Study: MUC1 has prognostic significance in malignant peritoneal mesothelioma [International Journal of Biological Markers]

Source: PR Web

MET Protein Levels Show Promise as Biomarker for Aggressive Colon Cancer

MET protein levels correlate strongly with epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype, a treatment-resistant type of colorectal cancer and may be used as a surrogate biomarker, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The study results, which compared MET protein expression with protein/gene expression of EMT markers and evaluated impact on survival, were released recently at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

“When the epithelial cells that line the colon become cancerous, some of them develop special features to allow migration, causing the cancer to be more aggressive,” said Kanwal Pratap Singh Raghav, M.D., fellow in MD Anderson’s Division of Cancer Medicine. “Although EMT is a dominant molecular subtype, a biomarker suitable for clinical use has not been found. This research gives us an important step toward learning more about treating this colorectal cancer subtype.”

In a bigger picture view, the study provides another piece of the puzzle of personalized cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“While we know there are many of types of colorectal cancer, we’re not as advanced as we’d like to be in our understanding of them,” said Scott Kopetz, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and senior author of the study. “One of the larger goals of our research is to classify simple biomarkers that can be used by doctors in the community to identify subtypes. We want to condense sophisticated gene signatures down to single markers and simple tests that can be used to guide therapy.”

The data were tested with:

  • Mann-Whitney U-test and Spearman rank correlation to determine association between MET protein expression and protein/gene expression of EMT markers and EMT gene signature scores
  • Regression tree method and Kaplan-Meier estimates to assess overall survival

Results of the analysis showed higher MET levels were found more often in colon tumors than rectal tumors.

Overexpression of MET was associated with:

  • Decreased overall survival
  • Higher gene expression of 28 EMT markers
  • Higher gene scores derived from three published EMT gene signatures

The researchers also determined that MET protein expression did not correlate with MET gene expression.

Next steps

Going forward, the group plans to apply this approach to other colorectal cancer subtypes, hopefully defining other simple and readily available biomarkers.

“The ultimate success in targeting colorectal cancer requires understanding molecular subsets of the disease,” Kopetz said. “If we can identify and group cancers with similar behaviors, we’ll be closer to identifying vulnerabilities and optimal therapies for each subset.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Lactation Protein Supresses Tumors and Metastasis in Breast Cancer

A protein that is necessary for lactation in mammals inhibits the critical cellular transition that is an early indicator of breast cancer and metastasis, according to research conducted at the University at Buffalo and Princeton University and highlighted as the cover paper in November issue of Nature Cell Biology.

GeneTex Launches Monoclonal Antibody to Detect CA IX Cancer Biomarker

GeneTex, a leading manufacturer of antibodies, is pleased to announce that they will be launching a new antibody against CAIX, a marker of hypoxia that shows great promise for cancer research.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Fund Biomarkers of Gut Function for Global Health

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is currently seeking letters of inquiry for the grant program Biomarkers of Gastrointestinal (Gut) Function and Health. Letters of intent are due by January 11th, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. PST. The grant program is part of a new biomarker grand challenge under the Grand Challenges in Global Health, a suite of grant programs intended to help overcome bottlenecks that prevent the creation of new and better health solutions for the developing world.