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Case Western Reserve University scientists test protein as early cancer detection agent

CLEVELAND-- Scientists at Case Western Reserve University have identified an agent that could lead to the early detection of many cancers.

The Case research team discovered that the human body increases production of the protein clusterin as a signal of cell distress and provides a reliable gauge of the general health of a cell. The findings were reported in a recent issue of the scientific journal Cancer Biology and Therapy.

"Understanding the processes that create this protein after radiation therapy or other treatments for cancer is important in our quest to develop new therapy regimens that improve the chances of recovery," said David Boothman, professor of radiation oncology and pharmacology and associate director of basic research at Case and University Hospitals of Cleveland.

According to the study, clusterin should behave in blood as it does in cells examined in the laboratory. The team observed clusterin levels rise in response to the presence of cancer. Researchers said this rise would indicate that if a baseline clusterin level was established for a healthy person, a simple blood test could detect any deviation in clusterin levels, indicating the potential presence of cancer. Case researchers will continue studies to confirm the findings and gain additional information.

The researchers used cells from humans and mice to establish their findings. "Trying to understand how genes influence cancer requires either a guess or mice, because we can't expose humans to the radiation that helped us get to these findings. Humans and mice share many genes, so it was much easier to use strains of genetically identical mice," Boothman said.

Case scientists test protein as early cancer detection.... add one

To monitor clusterin expression in human and rodent cells, the researchers made a gene cassette in which they fused the clusterin gene to luciferase, the enzyme that provides the light in fireflies. They implanted the bound g
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Contact: Marci Hersh
marci.hersh@case.edu
216-368-6518
Case Western Reserve University
22-Oct-2003


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